By on July 24, 2011

After Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan over the last couple of weeks, by solidarity today we are visiting Norway and I will give you a short but rich overview of what cars Norwegians are most fond of.

Now if you are already Norway’ed out with all the tragic news coming from there right now, that’s ok I understand, and there are 154 more countries to explore in my blog, so I’m sure you’ll find what you’re looking for there!

Norwegians are exposed to extreme (cold) temperatures pretty much every day of the year (OK not quite true but I was there in the middle of summer years ago and it was freezing!) and also to near-constant darkness about 6 months a year.

So their cars need to do one thing: work. Start in the morning by -30 degrees and not fail in the middle of a lonely snow-covered road in some remote part of the country… And that, Volkswagens and Toyotas can do…

Indeed over the last 12 years, either a Volkswagen or a Toyota was Norway’s best-selling car. Volkswagen has been holding the top spot over the last 5 consecutive years thanks to the Passat and the Golf.

Best-selling models in Norway since 1999

Year Norway best-seller Sales
1999 VW Golf 5,900
2000 VW Golf 5,819
2001 VW Passat 5,256
2002 Toyota Corolla 5,035
2003 Toyota Corolla 4,358
2004 Toyota Avensis 6,306
2005 Toyota Corolla 6,241
2006 VW Passat 5,183
2007 VW Passat 7,194
2008 VW Golf 5,079
2009 VW Golf 5,401
2010 VW Golf 8,229
2011 VW Golf (6 months) 3,565

As a whole, the Norwegian new car market reached a 20 year high in 2007 at 129,195 units, the best yearly figure since 1986, but was then hit by the economic crisis: it fell 15 percent in 2008 to 110,617 and a further 11 percent to 98,675 in 2009. Car sales in Norway have been kicking ass since though, up 29 percent in 2010 at 127,754 registrations and a further 10.5 percent over the first half of 2011 to 68,505 units. 2011 is on the way to become Norway’s best year for car sales in 25 years!

Brand-wise, Volkswagen dominates the Norwegian market at the moment with a 14.5 percent share over the first half of 2011, ahead of Toyota at 11.5 percent and Ford at 8.7 percent. Close relationships with Sweden mean Norwegian consumers buy a lot of Volvos, making it the 4th most successful brand in the country at 8 percent share. Mitsubishi rounds up the Top 5 with 6.1 percent.

But you know by now that brands ranking is not my cup of tea.

So what are the cars you will see most often on Norway’s snowy roads?

Well first, the VW Golf. As you have seen above, Norwegians are long-time fans of VW’s best seller. They didn’t particularly like the 5th generation from the mid-noughties, but are lapping up unheard of quantities of the Golf MK6 since its release in 2008. The Golf sold over 8,000 units in Norway last year, the highest yearly figure for any model in the country in over 10 years.

Best-selling models in Norway in 2010

Pos Model Sales Share
1 VW Golf 8,229 6.4%
2 Volvo V70 4,635 3.6%
3 Toyota Avensis 3,921 3.1%
4 Nissan Qashqai 3,870 3.0%
5 Ford Mondeo 3,422 2.7%
6 VW Passat 3,162 2.5%
7 VW Polo 3,032 2.4%
8 Skoda Octavia 3,014 2.4%
9 Toyota Auris 2,877 2.3%
10 Ford Fiesta 2,611 2.0%
11 Volvo V50 2,546 2.0%
12 Ford Focus 2,502 2.0%
13 Peugeot 3008 2,476 1.9%
14 Audi A4 2,413 1.9%
15 Mitsubishi Outlander 2,349 1.8%
16 Toyota Prius 2,208 1.7%
17 VW Tiguan 2,153 1.7%
18 Toyota RAV4 1,928 1.5%
19 Volvo XC60 1,871 1.5%
20 Toyota Yaris 1,821 1.4%

Germany beats Sweden in Norway!

The Volvo V70, long-term best-seller in its native Sweden, held an excellent second spot in 2010, even reaching #1 in December.

The Toyota Avensis, an Europe-exclusive model, is particularly successful in Northern Europe, as shown in 2010 in Norway where it reached a solid 3rd place with 3.1 percent of the market.

Nissan’s success story in Europe, the Qashqai, ranked 4th in 2010 with 3 percent of the Norwegian market.

Now to 2011.

The Golf stays on top, at least over the first 6 months of the years with 3,565 sales even though its share is down slightly to 5.2 percent vs. 6.4 percent in 2010:

Norway Jan-Jun  2011

Pos Model Jan-Jun 2011 Share
1 VW Golf 3,565 5.2%
2 VW Passat 2,359 3.4%
3 Mitsubishi ASX 2,342 3.4%
4 Toyota Avensis 1,986 2.9%
5 Nissan Qashqai 1,771 2.6%
6 Volvo V70 1,770 2.6%
7 Toyota Auris 1,684 2.5%
8 Ford Focus 1,668 2.4%
9 Ford Mondeo 1,636 2.4%
10 VW Polo 1,526 2.2%
11 Skoda Octavia 1,468 2.1%
12 Volvo V50 1,205 1.8%
13 Audi A4 1,069 1.6%
14 Opel Astra 1,048 1.5%
15 Volvo V60 1,042 1.5%
16 Peugeot 3008 1,025 1.5%
17 Peugeot 508 921 1.3%
18 VW Tiguan 911 1.3%
19 Volvo XC60 894 1.3%
20 Toyota Yaris 859 1.3%

Very strong showing for the new generation VW Passat, up to #2 in 2011 with 3.4 percent of the market, it was even the best-selling car in Norway in June!

But the big surprise this year in Norway comes from Japan: the Mitsubishi ASX is having a ball here, ranking #2 for a few months in 2011 and finishing the 1st Half at an astounding 3rd place only 17 sales below the Passat with 3.4 percent of the market also. Norway is by far the country in the world where the ASX has made the biggest inroads, which says a lot about its reliability.

(The above was the bit of trivia for your dinners. Repeat after me: “did you know that the best performing market in the world for the Nissan Qashqai-killer the ASX is Norway? Bet you didn’t…”)

There. You are now an expert on Norwegian car sales.

You can see a complete report on the Norwegian car market for every month since October 2010 in my blog. There is also complete historical information with the Top 20 best-selling models for each year up to 1999.

All figures are sourced from

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

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11 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Norwegians faithful to Volkswagen...”

  • avatar
    Sam P

    Maybe Mitsubishi can survive as an automobile brand even if they pull out of the US market.

  • avatar

    Just some input from a Norwegian here. I think a lot of the reason why VW’s and Toyota’s sell so much in Norway is also the fact that we are a small modest (even if kinda rich) country, and people don’t like to stick out too much, so they often end up buying the same car as their neighbors/friends/family. And we are quite conservative when it comes to our choice in cars. Ford still struggles to build up a reputation for quality that they lost in the 70’s/80’s when VW made cars that were reliable. And Toyota is, well, Toyota. The prices for repairs, and a general lack of interest in working on their own cars makes Toyota a natural choice.
    And my Ford Sierra still has the record for best selling car model in a year, over 11.000 cars, in 1986 (a record that will probably not be beaten since the available selection of cars is bigger now)

    • 0 avatar
      Hildy Johnson

      You still drive that Sierra?

      • 0 avatar

        i happen to be in norway at the moment in a small town in the fjords. surprisingly wide variety of cars here; mostly diesel, mostly stick shift, mostly wagons. vw’s including polos and the wierd sharon mini-van. skodas and opels are common the koreans are making in-roads but still not that common. i saw the super cool/wierd ssangyong rexton with the bubble back. volvo v70s are everywhere. as to ‘merican metal, i saw a camaro, a tahoe, and dodge caravan, an original neon and a couple of military jeeps as weekend toys complete with camo paint jobs. decent representation of french cars, too. i also saw a 2 door honda h-rv cuv which i didn’t know about; looks great. why didn’t they sell it in the states?

    • 0 avatar

      Hi Zykotec,

      Thank you very much for your insight, very interesting to hear it from the (norwegian’s) mouth. When you mention the Ford Sierra getting 11,000 sales in 1986 you get me all interested: would you by any chance have any access to historical sales data for norway??? To furthest I managed to find is 1999 so any info about your market before then would be invaluable…
      thank you!

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sorry, but I have no access to any statistics, I have just happened to come over the numbers in an article mentioning it as a record.Can’t seem to find it now, so I can’t really assure you that the numbers are correct either:P
        1986 also seems to have been quite a good year for car sales, because as I tried to find the numbers now, I found an article where they refer to 2011 sales (‘this far’, the article was written in May) as ‘finally up to the of the 1986 numbers’ The same article actually refers to the Golf as a best seller that in 1986, with 2617 cars (which sounds very low), with a total of 167.352 cars sold. So I don’t know which article is correct.
        PS: I’ll look through my Collection of magazines later

      • 0 avatar

        After looking through some of my older magazines again, I found some numbers for some cars, and different years, I didn’t find the one regarding the Sierra’s sales record, but I found one saying they sold over 8000 Sierras in 1987, so I’m guessing the other number I posted for the Golf in 1986 was only for the month of may, or the first three months in 1986.

        btw @ Hildy Johnson
        It’s an enthusiast owned old Ford, so offcourse it doesn’t run ;)

    • 0 avatar

      OK thanks very much for the info Zykotec!

  • avatar

    Nissan Qashqai is basically Rogue with much better looking front clip. And Mitsubishi ASX aka RVR (in Canada) and Outlander Sport (in the US).

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