Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Cambodia, America, Same Deal

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

Over the last few weeks we’ve been to Malta, Bangladesh, Venezuela, and then last week was a trip down memory lane to the USA in 1986. Now we board our plane again to travel to Cambodia…

Yes but you might not want to go to Cambodia this week – I hear some of you moan already…That’s OK I will respond, because I’ve prepared 155 other countries for you to visit in my blog, and I can tell you it is just great, so click away!

The one thing in common Cambodia has with America is: their love for the Toyota Camry!

While in the States the Camry love story has been going on for nearly 15 years with no divorce in sight, in Cambodia it goes even further.

The story of why Cambodians love the Toyota Camry is a familiar story for a lot developing countries. Where cars are still a luxury and most of them are taxis, it helps if most cars on the road are the same model, so you can pick /steal parts from other cars, so the mechanics can become experts in that model and so spare parts can be easily found. In the late 1970s/early 1980s when Cambodia fell to the Red Khmers then the Vietnamese army, it was decided that the Camry was the perfect taxi.

Thanks to its reliability in the wild, the Camry established itself as the omnious car in Cambodia and different generations of the model poured onto the country’s roads. Nowadays, the Camry is by far the most common sight on Cambodian streets. Their provenance is another story.

In Cambodia, due to very high import duties on new cars and a non-existent local industry, sales of new cars are very limited and account for only around 10% of the total sales of cars in any given year. For example in 2010, Cambodia imported a total of 562,529 old and new vehicles, up from 361,146 units in 2009. Only a few thousands of these were actually new cars.

And here comes an interesting fact: most Camrys in circulation in Cambodia are actually imported pre-owned, directly from the US, Japan, or the Middle-East…

After the Camry, another very common sight in the streets of Phnom Penh are Lexus SUVs, different generations of GX470 or RX Series… Except that Lexus doesn’t officially sell in Cambodia…

That’s because these luxury SUV’s are privately imported from the Middle-East or the USA, sometimes even keeping their original registration tags…

Other popular cars in Cambodia are the Honda CR-V

Toyota Hilux

and Mitsubishi L200

This estimation is based on the observation of the streets of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh through recent You Tube videos. For more information on the Cambodian car market you can go here. If you have official sales data for Cambodia by model please ensure you comment on this post!

Figures are sourced from the Cambodia Ministry of Commerce.

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

Join the conversation
  • Signal11 Signal11 on Sep 27, 2011

    I can vouch for the number of Camrys in Cambodia. I once took the night boat up to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh, then spent a couple weeks on the shore of the lake, up through Battambang, where is supposedly a center of the old Khmer boxing style. Only by the time I showed up, there was a big teekraw (that's the volleyball you play with your feet) tournament going on and I couldn't find anyone worth training with. Instead of getting a taste of Cambodian kickboxing, I ate a lot of cannabis foods (very popular in the area) and ended up getting my credit card/PIN combo skimmed at an ATM. Also, in rural areas, the most basic mode of transportation is a 2-wheel farm tractor hooked up to a trailer. Even for SE Asia, Cambodia goes from urban to rural fast. There are far fewer cars on the road than the rest of indochina and you can see the farm tractors everywhere. One note about Japanese vs Korean companies. I noticed around Siem Reap/Angkor Wat that the Korean tour companies used Korean buses (Hyundai & Ssangyong) and the Japanese tour companies used Japanese buses (mostly Coasters).

  • Schhim Schhim on Sep 27, 2011

    +1, the Camry is the official car of Cambodia. I took a ride in my uncle's Camry to visit some relatives in BFE and despite the pock-marked "road" the Camry kept on trucking. I also noticed some looked like they had lift kits installed for more clearance. But by far the most popular form of transportation is the 125cc "moto."

  • Tassos And all 3 were ordered by Fisker's mother. Seriously, given Fisker's terrible record of Failure in the past, only an utter loser, (for example, VGhost or Art Vandelay?), looking for a BEV terrible enough to be a proper replacement of his 11 mile range Fiat 500E, would order one of these. (apart from Fisker's mother)
  • Tassos And all 3 of them were ordered by Fisker's mother.Seriously, after Fisker's DISMAL record of UTTER FAILURE in the past, only a GOD DAMNED MORON would order this one.
  • RHD Any truth to the unconfirmed rumor that the new, larger model will be called the bZ6X? We could surmise that with a generous back seat it certainly should be!
  • Damon Thomas Adding to the POSITIVES... It's a pretty fun car to mod
  • GregLocock Two adjacent states in Australia have different attitudes to roadworthy inspections. In NSW they are annual. In Victoria they only occur at change of ownership. As you'd expect this leads to many people in Vic keeping their old car.So if the worrywarts are correct Victoria's roads would be full of beaten up cars and so have a high accident rate compared with NSW. Oh well, the stats don't agree.