By on July 16, 2011

Yes I am back! And after Saudi Arabia, we are staying in the (Greater) Middle East to go to Afghanistan.

Now if you have been to Afghanistan already to fight the war or something, you would already know by now what cars are most popular there so I suggest you check out my blog where I cover 154 more countries. Enjoy!

Alright so there are no official car sales figures for Afghanistan, but the country is famous for one thing…

…and this is the fact that around 90% of the cars in circulation are… Toyota Corollas! Yes 90% you have read the right number. All the generations of the model covering the last 40 years are present in the streets of Kabul and other cities of the country.

Only a few hundred new Corollas are sold every year in Afghanistan…

That’s because a vast majority of Corollas entering Afghanistan are used imports from Japan, Germany, Canada and the USA. Used Corollas pour into the country in an continuous flow, most of them being shipped via Dubai of all places.

All versions are represented: sedans, hatchbacks, yellow station wagons that were cabs in a previous life… There is one Corolla for every taste!

The most popular Corollas are from the early 1990’s with more than 300,000 km on the clock. Germany-produced Corollas supposedly get better mileage.

White Corollas sell much better and can fetch up to $1,500 more than an similar model in black, simply because they show less dirt and therefore don’t need to be washed as often…

Over the years, a full industry of mechanics appeared,specialized in the art of keeping Corollas running . Nowadays a lot of models see most of their parts completely replaced during their life-cycle.

So there you have it, a lot of Corollas produced around the planet actually come to die and live again in Afghanistan.

The other 10% of the Afghan market is also very straight forward:

Toyota Hilux

Toyota Land Cruiser

and a few Mercedeses and Suzuki pick-ups.

Now you are an expert in Afghan car sales.

Oh wait not yet, the traditional gold nugget is coming your way: Toyota was not always dominating car sales in Afghanistan, even after the appearance of the Corolla…

During the 80s and the Soviet occupation, Russian Volgas were also extremely popular. They unfortunately didn’t stand the test of time, leaving the market wide open for Toyota.

There. Now you are an expert.

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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16 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Toyota Corollas come to Afghanistan to die...”

  • avatar

    I’ve been in Albania once, about 80% of all cars are Mercedes models from last 40 years or so, most probably stolen from western europe, some even had foreign plates still on. Local guy said that there is only one brand they trust, all other cars are crap in their opinion.

    • 0 avatar

      Hey Manic,

      Thanks for your comment!
      You might be interested in checking out my post about Albania here:

      Lots of Mercedeses indeed!

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    That is why you can’t barely find any Corollas in any salvage yard, unless they are severely damaged, they get sent to foreign countries, Haiti, So America and now I see where also!

  • avatar

    I sell a good deal of our (rental franchise) Camry and Corolla’s to wholesalers who ship them to the middle east or Russia. Once there they change the mileage and re-sell them.

  • avatar

    I had a Ford Escape XLS, front wheel drive, 5-speed. I sold it on eBay to a Russian guy who exports them to Russia out of the NJ port.  He said Escapes such as mine were popular because of their size and fuel economy. He handled quite a few of these transactions every month. 

    • 0 avatar

      That’s cool, and it makes a lot of sense to me — especially given the Russian guys I know. It seems odd to me, though, that this trade in used cars is one-way, though. It must be a quirk of our laws.

      Similarly, when I visited Nassau (Bahamas), I saw very-used RHD and LHD cars the USA, Europe, and Latin America. It seems odd that in a country where driving on the left side of the road is the rule that most of the cars I saw were left-hand-drive. But I didn’t see much of Nassau — I was on a cruise ship and we only had a few hours to explore, so all I saw was downtown Nassau.

      In the USA, a country that tells itself that it is the greatest capitalist free-trade melting pot in history, it seems strange to me that our streets aren’t as diverse a small city in the middle of nowhere like Nassau. Yes, there are good reasons why things are this way.

  • avatar

    Lots of things seem to come to Afganistan to die.

  • avatar

    A early 90s corolla with a 2c diesel engine is indestructable no wonder they like em Hilux is popular with insurgents and troops as the HUmmer is pretty much useless in rough coutry

  • avatar

    It looks like the first mod to a Corolla is suspension lift (using solid bits of iron and/or wood I’d suspect) to negotiate the roads.

  • avatar

    Yeah, just about every VBIED reported started out with “White Toyota Corolla…” during my time in OEF. Made it hard to come home to a mother that drives a Corolla…yikes! But I do love the Hiluxes we all had to drive around in…especially the five speed diesels (sorry…no ostrich leather in those)…

  • avatar

    If white Corollas get a $1500 premium due to their ability to hide dirt, do silver Corollas get $2500 and gold Corollas get $3000?

  • avatar

    Three years ago I came to Afghanistan a Chevy man, and in short order I switched to Toyota.

    Two quick stories:

    (1) I watched a Toyota Surf (early 90s) caught in a gigantic gravel slide that buried the vehicle within 6 inches of the roofline. After it sat that way for two weeks during the cold winter month of February, a local national negotiated to buy the vehicle from the USAID contractor who buried it, and he and some friends dug it out, started it up and drove it away. That was two years ago, and I am sure it is still going strong.

    (2) Coming back through the pass from Jalalabad/Surobi to Kabul last year, we encountered one of those numerous traffic jams that occur when an out-of-control fuel truck tips over on a narrow switchback. In our B6, we went offroad and followed a purple Corolla through Kabul River, which at this point was deep enough to wash over the Corolla’s hood for a few brief moments. We both emerged further down the road and continued onto Kabul without event.

  • avatar

    I find it amazing that the poorest countries in the world have VAST amounts of mineral wealth and for some reason, always seem to be at war with countries like America, England and other coalitions of thieves.

    And even more interesting, those countries who can “afford” to be at war in said impoverished countries, always end up broke, defaulting on debts and eventually fall into decline because they can no longer ride high on the hog after spending themselves into oblivion.

    There IS a conspiracy to keep the poor impoverished.

  • avatar

    The most popular Corollas are from the early 1990′s with more than 300,000 km on the clock.

    Even Afghan warlords know that the newer Corollas don’t measure up the earlier models.

  • avatar

    Never mind the Corolla, look at that PA-06 in the background of the video still. Now there’s a legend! When the last car on earth runs out of gas the drivers going to get on that thing to pedal home.

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