Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: World Round-up April 2012: Big Change Coming From India

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

As promised last week and as per your requests, it is now time for our new monthly appointment: the World Round-up!

After giving you the Top 100 best-selling models worldwide over the First Quarter of 2012 last week, we can now have a first look at what models made the headlines around the world last month.

Not interested? That’s fine! There are 163 additional countries and territories for you to visit in my blog, so click to check out your next holiday destination so at least you will know what cars you’ll be meeting there.

Now, our world round-up.

If last month the focus was on the Toyota Prius family and its huge success in the US and Japan, April takes us to India where we witness a historical change

Don’t get me wrong, the Prius is still one of the month’s superstars, with the Prius family reaching a record 5th position in the US and the Toyota Aqua (aka Prius c) now threatening the Prius for the #1 spot overall in Japan. But I’ve talked a lot about the Prius in the last month so let’s mix it up a bit!

Back to India. In April the Maruti/Suzuki Swift takes the lead of the models ranking with 19,484 sales and a record 8.9% market share, breaking 93 months of uninterrupted reign by the Maruti Alto. Add the sales of the sedan version, called DZire in India, and the Swift family delivers almost 35,000 sales this month for a mammoth 16% share! But this is not the big news… The Indian market is generally so stable that before now only 3 models had managed to rank #1 there since 1950:

The Hindustan Ambassador…

… the Maruti 800…

…and the Maruti Alto.

Make this 4.

The other model starting to make some noise worldwide is the Mazda CX-5, particularly Down Under: the new small SUV reaches its highest ranking worldwide so far in New Zealand for its first month of sales there at a fantastic 6th place (in a very small market, granted) and is already knocking at the Australian Top 10′s door at #11 there with 1.8% of the market.

The third star of the month is Korean. Hyundai has not waited for sales of the i30 to slow down to replace it, and the new generation of the model, built in Nosovice in Czech Republic, already looks like it is establishing itself as the next best thing to a Skoda in Eastern Europe. No mean feat given Skoda’s domination in the region. This month it ranks #3 in Slovakia and Czech Republic and is leader in Croatia.

After a fantastic first quarter that saw it become General Motors’ best-seller worldwide for the very first time, the Chevrolet Cruze continues to progress in April, and one of its big achievements is breaking into the Russian Top 10 for the first time.

The new generation BMW 3 Series is a success: it is up to a shiny 9th place overall in Europe with 17,171 sales, its first time in the Top 10 since December 2008, due in big part to a fantastic 2nd place in Germany.

The fall in southern europe intensifies, with Greece down 57%, Spain down 22% and at its worst level in 25 years, and Italy down 18%. In Italy, the most affected provinces are Florence (-66%) and Rome (-61%) and UNRAE now predicts 2012 at 1,434,000 registrations, the worst figure in 35 years. For the first time since the car started mass production in 1946, with more cars being disposed of than ones being bought, 2012 may be remembered as the year the process of “demotorisation” started in Italy!

In this sombre context, the Fiat Panda continues its brilliant run, enjoying its 4th consecutive month atop the models ranking in its native country, and reappearing in the European Top 10 at #8, its highest European ranking since February 2010. But the best news for Fiat come from abroad: this month the Fiat 500 ranks within the UK Top 10 for the first time in over 2 years.

In China, two new low-cost brands make their appearance in the ranking after Linian (Honda) and Baojun (GM) last year, Honda launches the Ciimo Si Ming ( and Nissan launches the Venucia D50 ( this month. In Iran, we are starting to see the effects of Peugeot’s withdrawal and the big winner is Renault: the Tondar 90 -aka Dacia Logan- is up 35% to a best-ever 4th place this month while the Megane is up 48%…

In France, the Peugeot 208 breaks into the Top 10 for the very first time at #9 and the Dacia Lodgy…lodges its first true month of sales at I predict a Top 10 ranking there in the next year or so for the Lodgy: it has been the case for all recent Dacias in France: the Logan peaked at #7 in December 2007, the Sandero at #2 in March 2010 and the Duster at #5 in November 2011.

Other worldwide highlights in April 2012 include the very promising start of the Toyota 86 in Japan at #17 for its first full month of sales, the Honda N-BOX taking the lead of the Japanese Kei cars ranking, the VW Tiguan at best-ever #2 in Norway and #3 in Switzerland, the Volvo V50 surprise leader in Finland and the Audi A1 and Q3 reaching their best rankings so far in Austria at #14 and #25 respectively.

Finally, thanks to a trip to Bali at the end of last month I can share with you much more data and pictures about the Indonesian car market where the Toyota Avanza still rules by far.

And this time I will not venture a “rough estimation” on the Top 10 best-selling models worldwide as my last attempt had to be strongly amended further down the track so if you give me a couple of weeks to consolidate my numbers I will come back to you with a proper and nearly official Top 20…so stay tuned!

Now you truly are on top of every single latest trend in worldwide car sales. I’m proud of you all!

Thanks for listening, until next time.

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

Matt Gasnier
Matt Gasnier

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  • Varezhka I have still yet to see a Malibu on the road that didn't have a rental sticker. So yeah, GM probably lost money on every one they sold but kept it to boost their CAFE numbers.I'm personally happy that I no longer have to dread being "upgraded" to a Maxima or a Malibu anymore. And thankfully Altima is also on its way out.
  • Tassos Under incompetent, affirmative action hire Mary Barra, GM has been shooting itself in the foot on a daily basis.Whether the Malibu cancellation has been one of these shootings is NOT obvious at all.GM should be run as a PROFITABLE BUSINESS and NOT as an outfit that satisfies everybody and his mother in law's pet preferences.IF the Malibu was UNPROFITABLE, it SHOULD be canceled.More generally, if its SEGMENT is Unprofitable, and HALF the makers cancel their midsize sedans, not only will it lead to the SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST ones, but the survivors will obviously be more profitable if the LOSERS were kept being produced and the SMALL PIE of midsize sedans would yield slim pickings for every participant.SO NO, I APPROVE of the demise of the unprofitable Malibu, and hope Nissan does the same to the Altima, Hyundai with the SOnata, Mazda with the Mazda 6, and as many others as it takes to make the REMAINING players, like the Excellent, sporty Accord and the Bulletproof Reliable, cheap to maintain CAMRY, more profitable and affordable.
  • GregLocock Car companies can only really sell cars that people who are new car buyers will pay a profitable price for. As it turns out fewer and fewer new car buyers want sedans. Large sedans can be nice to drive, certainly, but the number of new car buyers (the only ones that matter in this discussion) are prepared to sacrifice steering and handling for more obvious things like passenger and cargo space, or even some attempt at off roading. We know US new car buyers don't really care about handling because they fell for FWD in large cars.
  • Slavuta Why is everybody sweating? Like sedans? - go buy one. Better - 2. Let CRV/RAV rust on the dealer lot. I have 3 sedans on the driveway. My neighbor - 2. Neighbors on each of our other side - 8 SUVs.
  • Theflyersfan With sedans, especially, I wonder how many of those sales are to rental fleets. With the exception of the Civic and Accord, there are still rows of sedans mixed in with the RAV4s at every airport rental lot. I doubt the breakdown in sales is publicly published, so who knows... GM isn't out of the sedan business - Cadillac exists and I can't believe I'm typing this but they are actually decent - and I think they are making a huge mistake, especially if there's an extended oil price hike (cough...Iran...cough) and people want smaller and hybrids. But if one is only tied to the quarterly shareholder reports and not trends and the big picture, bad decisions like this get made.