By on August 13, 2011

Over the last month we have gone to AfghanistanNorway, Haiti and Mongolia… Hope you’re not too jet lagged because today we are flying to Israel. שלום!

If you live there, have been there or simply are not in the mood today, I have your back: there are 155 additional countries to be explored in my blog so click away!

Now those of you who have been following these weekly posts for a while are already familiar with the car landscape of neighboring countries like Egypt and Syria. Well, Israel is another beast altogether, with a set of popular brands unique in the world…

Israel is the only country in the world (I very strongly believe – but am not sure about all those small islands spread all over the Pacific Ocean…) where Mazda is the best-selling brand. And it has been so for at least a decade… The latest figures I have are over the first 10 months of 2010 and in that period the Israeli car market was up 28 percent year-on-year at 176,684 registrations, with Mazda delivering 25,808 sales for a 14.6 percent market share, ahead of Hyundai at 24,974 sales and 14.1 percent share.

The Mazda3 is the most popular car in Israel, and as far as my figures go back (2005) it has been #1, so a very strong domination indeed. Some years it has even held up to 12% of the Israeli market…by far its strongest share anywhere in the world.

Israeli consumers are quite similar to Spanish ones insofar as their preference for compact cars: the #2 spot in 2010 was held by the Toyota Corolla…

…and the Chevrolet Cruze comes in 3rd place.

Models ranking info outside the podium is vague but what I can offer you is rankings by segment.

At that game, Mazda wins 3 out of 4 times. The Mazda2 leads the mini segment…

Pos Mini
1 Mazda2
2 Hyundai i20
3 Suzuki Swift
4 Seat Ibiza
5 Skoda Fabia

…ahead of the Hyundai i20, the Suzuki Swift,

Seat Ibiza and Skoda Fabia.

The medium segment is dominated, we’ve seen it, by the 3, Corolla and Cruze and they are followed by the Hyundai i30 and Skoda Octavia.

Pos Compact & Medium
1 Mazda3
2 Toyota Corolla
3 Chevrolet Cruze
4 Hyundai i30
5 Skoda Octavia

The Mazda6 is the best-selling large car…

Pos Large
1 Mazda6
2 Ford Mondeo
3 Subaru Legacy
4 Honda Accord
5 Opel Insignia

ahead of the Ford Mondeo, Subaru Legacy, Honda Accord and Opel Insignia.

The only segment not dominated by Mazda is the 4WD/SUV/Crossovers, where the Hyundai Tucson leads the way…

Pos SUV/4WD/Crossover
1 Hyundai Tucson
2 Toyota RAV4
3 Suzuki Grand Vitara
4 Nissan Qashqai
5 Subaru Forester

…ahead of the Toyota RAV4, Suzuki Grand Vitara, Nissan Qashqai and Subaru Forester.

That’s all the official data I have!

See here for more info on the best-selling models in Israel up until 2005.

Now for the much-awaited bit of trivia that will focus the spotlight on your proud smile in those high society dinners. Well. You need to know that the only other country in the world where the Mazda3 is/was the best-seller is Australia, where it held the pole position over the first 6 months of 2011 before being passed by the Holden Commodore in July.

There. No one will know. That you can be certain of it.

And if someone should know, then you smugly answer: “It’s not a Mazda. It’s Ma-zu-da  in Japanese!”

Now you’re an expert.

All figures and rankings 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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20 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Israel, Mazda’s Favorite Country...”

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    The price of gas is absolutely astonishing in Israel. You are looking at a doubling of price compare to the U.S. market.

    The cost of buying a new car in Israel is also about double what it is in the states. It doesn’t matter if you try to import it or purchase through what can only be described as a legalized oligopoly. The powers that be in Israel go out of their way to screw off the middle class as much as possible.

    I won’t jump into that rabbit hole of politics here. But suffice to say that most immigrants don’t come to Israel to enjoy the cost of living there.

    • 0 avatar

      Perhaps if it could decide its borders for itself Israel would be a country.

    • 0 avatar


      To begin with, there’s insane levels of taxes on cars, new or used, that about double the cost of the car. Israel was a socialist country for the first 30 years of its existence and there is still a lot of residue from then.

      However, new immigrants get a tax break on cars and some other benefits.

      Netanyahu has been divesting publicly owned companies and trying to implement more of a free market. In part that’s why Israel has weathered the last three years pretty well economically.

      I doubt they’ll lower the fuel taxes, but there have been a couple of very large natural gas discoveries off the coast of Israel. They contain about 300% of Israel’s anticipated needs so the country may start exporting natural gas. For the time being it will still have to import petroleum to refine into gasoline. However, the most recent news is that shale deposits in Israel may have an equivalent amount of oil as Saudi Arabia has.

      Unlike the current administration in Washington, the current government in Jerusalem has no problem with developing their domestic energy resources.

      • 0 avatar

        Singapore has also high car taxes, isn’t known to be socialist, but it doesn’t have a car industry. And if you don’t have a car industry that it is simply smart politics to have a very high car registration tax.

        About shale. The Ghawar oil field is about 40% of the size of Israel which makes the claim of Israel,the new Saudi Arabia, somewhat suspect.

    • 0 avatar

      It is normal behaviour for a state without a car industry to tax car purchases into the stratosphere. It is IMHO also smart to do this as people will spend half a years income on new car purchases so higher car taxes will lead to less importation.

      • 0 avatar

        It also tends to lead to importing of used cars instead of new.

      • 0 avatar

        Only if they aren’t taxed. Which they are

      • 0 avatar

        Seems to be the case even if they are taxed, since the used vehicle is the only thing that’s affordable, even with taxes.

      • 0 avatar

        Importing a not classic second hand cars in a high tax registration countries is often done by looking how much tax the car would cost if it was new and asking that.

        Those countries have a problem with exporting second hand cars to the third world because they also need to depreciate the registration taxes. Which leads to a situation that they are awash in fairly new second hand cars which makes those extra affordable

    • 0 avatar

      If I may add one more thing, the price of cars might be even more than double if you add the fact that these are not the same cars sold here, every Mazda3, Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla and so on are 1.6 liter versions, it’s so underpowered that every time I visit Israel, as soon as I leave the Avis parking lot with my 1.6 liter rental, it feels like something is wrong with the car, you hit the accelerator and the car is barely moving, forget about getting up to speed on uphill or on a highway ramp.
      It started many years ago when Israel decided to tax cars according to the size of the engine so you’ll find many cars with engines that are too small for their body.

    • 0 avatar

      Is raels car prices reflect what most people pay ,The Us has ridiculously low car prices and almost free gas yet still you whine

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah not to mention cars in the US aren’t taxed heavily (hint to cash-strapped US gov’t, you’re got a gold mine here ;)). Where I come from a Camry starts at 48 grand. And this is 3rd world.

  • avatar

    It might not be the best seller, but for anyone who’s been to Canada, it’s easy to see just how popular Mazda is there too (especially the 3). I wouldn’t be surprised if it was #2 after Israel in terms of Mazda’s per capita.

    I’ve always been a fan of the brand, minus that pesky rust issue, and it’s disappointing that it’s not more popular in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Despite the fact that it is built in Japan, the Mazda 3 was quite high on the list for my next car until Mazda decided to discontinue all manufacturing in the U.S.

      Among other things, it shows a lack of commitment to the market.

      • 0 avatar

        With the Ford tie-up being dissolved, and the plant being way under capacity, it was the only viable solution. The production of the 6 is being moved to Japan, so it wasn’t a labor cost issue.

    • 0 avatar

      The Mazda3 has been the best selling car in Canada for a few monthly periods. Some years, it has been #2 in annual sales behind the Civic.

  • avatar

    I know a tom of people get their cars there as part of their employment deal. The car is leased and the employee gets to drive it. You’ll see the company’s logo on the back fender, usually. One guy I talked to about this said he also gets a gas card. He had no idea how much gas cost, but would get a bonus if he used less than some amount.

    Hell of a deal, and probably one reason they can get away with the high taxes and fuel costs. A lot of people are insulated from it.

  • avatar


    On the contrary, establishing a plant in the US and building a US-specific Mazda 6 demonstrates all kinds of commitment to the market. It’s just that no one bought the car, thus the retreat to Japan.

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