Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Has the Hybrid Era Started For Good?

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

I can sense from where I sit upside down in Sydney, Australia, that through my posts you are getting more and more knowledgeable about exactly which cars sell best: the Top 265 best-selling models in the USA over the first quarter of 2012 now have no secrets for you, as do the Top 318 best-selling models in Europe in 2011 and the Top 100 best-selling models in the World in 2011… So I thought I would give you even more recent data.

How about the best-selling models in the world in March 2012?

More of the same I hear you say?

Fine, you can find sales info for 159 additional countries for you to visit in my blog, all one by one. So don’t be shy and click away!

But to answer the question…

Actually, no. It’s not more of the same.

And I’ve got one word for you to prove it: hybrid.

Given I spend most of my evenings gathering car sales data from all around the globe, last month I had the (genius? more like masochist) idea of doing a monthly wrap-up compiling the world’s sales highlights for March 2012.

And there were a few.

Yes because you see, to start with the above-mentioned hybrid word, two variants of the Toyota Prius launched a few months ago: an MPV called Prius alpha in Japan and Prius v in the US and a smaller hatch called Aqua in Japan and Prius c elsewhere. And the Prius family took off worldwide in March. It lodged record-breaking volumes in Japan and the USA. In Japan, the Prius c is marketed as Aqua and is up to an outstanding 29,156 sales, while the ‘standard’ Prius sold a record 45,496 units including the MPV version, up 131% year-on-year. In the US, sales are not split and the Prius family as a whole sold a record 28,711 units for a best-ever 6th place.

What does it mean?

Simply that for the first time in the history of automobile, the best-selling model (or call it family) in the world may (and I stress the ‘may’ – these are still estimates after all) be a hybrid car. Estimations for world sales of the Prius family in March stand at 106,522, ahead of the estimated 102,000 sales of Toyota Corolla over the period and the 98,000 estimated Ford Focus sold across the planet that month…

It is a historical month indeed.

But there were other models that were under the spotlights worldwide in March…

The Honda CR-V new generation enables the nameplate to reach record heights in both the USA where it ranks at a best-ever #5 with 30,068 units sold and in China where it is #4 with 21,124 units.

Nissan lodges two historical performances in March: even though it is about to be replaced with a new generation, the Altima breaks its monthly volume record in the USA with 41,050 sales…

…while the Nissan Qashqai has its best European month ever in 7th place with 30,237 units, thanks to best-ever performances in Germany, France, the UK, Ireland (, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, Czech Republic and ranking #2 in Spain.

Another milestone passed in March: for the first time ever, there were two Japanese models in the European Top 10 with the Toyota Yaris climbing into 10th position with 22,856 sales, helped by a record-breaking showing in the UK.

India is the new China: in March 281,831 new vehicles found a buyer in the country, up 20% year-on-year and a new all-time record! The Maruti Alto has its 2nd best month ever at 35,245 sales and no less than 12 models break their monthly record, including the Maruti DZire, Hyundai Eon, Tata Nano…

…and Honda Brio delivering the best month ever for a Honda model in India at 6,355 sales.

Other March highlights include the pole position of the VW Up! in Denmark only a few months after its launch…

the Fiat Uno beating the VW Gol in Brazil for only the third time ever…

…the Lada Granta up to #4 in Russia…

the Dacia Duster reaching 10% share in its native Romania…

…the all-new Peugeot 208 landing at #16 in France, the Mazda CX-5 reaching a world best #18 in the Netherlands

…and the Range Rover Evoque breaking into the Swiss Top 20,

Worldwide estimated Top 10 best-selling models – March 2012:

PosModelMar-122011Pos ’111Toyota Prius106,522367,627422Toyota Corolla102,0001,141,70913Ford Focus98,000882,55124VW Golf79,399864,45235Ford Fiesta72,888767,46556VW Polo69,000788,78947Ford F-Series67,834698,31998Honda CR-V61,192530,000209Hyundai Elantra59,900751,967610Wuling Sunshine54,546731,6897

Note this is an estimation I made based on the sales figures of these vehicles in 60 countries around the world, these are not official sales figures.

Now if this doesn’t quench your thirst for numbers I don’t know what will.

What if I wrote a similar article each month so you can make sure you are abreast of all the latest developments in the geeky world of car sales? Let me know what you think…

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

Join the conversation
4 of 7 comments
  • Imag Imag on May 08, 2012

    Love this article. Please keep it up...

  • Jruhi4 Jruhi4 on May 09, 2012

    Matt: As a fellow automotive blogger, I totally feel your "genius? more like masochist" comment. Nonetheless, I strongly support your monthly roundup suggestion. This one was excellent, and, judging from your past work, I'm sure subsequent monthly roundups will be to your usual high standards.

    • Matt Gasnier Matt Gasnier on May 14, 2012

      Hey jruhi4 thank you very much for your praise! Really appreciate it. We are on for a world monthly round up!

  • Sayahh Is it 1974 or 1794? The article is inconsistent.
  • Laura I just buy a Hyndai Elantra SEL, and My car started to have issues with the AC dont work the air sometimes is really hot and later cold and also I heard a noice in the engine so I went to the dealer for the first service and explain what was hapenning to the AC they told me that the car was getting hot because the vent is not working I didnt know that the car was getting hot because it doesnt show nothing no sign no beep nothing I was surprise and also I notice that it needed engine oil, I think that something is wrong with this car because is a model 23 and I just got it on April only 5 months use. is this normal ? Also my daughter bought the same model and she went for a trip and the car also got hot and it didnt show up in the system she called them and they said to take the car to the dealer for a check up I think that if the cars are new they shouldnt be having this problems.
  • JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
  • JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
  • Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.