By on May 8, 2012

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 GermanyFrancethe UKIreland (#1)PolandSlovakiaSwitzerlandCzech 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-newPeugeot 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:

Pos Model Mar-12 2011 Pos ’11
1 Toyota Prius 106,522 367,627 42
2 Toyota Corolla 102,000 1,141,709 1
3 Ford Focus 98,000 882,551 2
4 VW Golf 79,399 864,452 3
5 Ford Fiesta 72,888 767,465 5
6 VW Polo 69,000 788,789 4
7 Ford F-Series 67,834 698,319 9
8 Honda CR-V 61,192 530,000 20
9 Hyundai Elantra 59,900 751,967 6
10 Wuling Sunshine 54,546 731,689 7

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.

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