Best Selling Cars Around the Globe: Can the Ford Focus Become the World's Most Popular Car?

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

After reviving a few fond memories in some of you by taking you on a trip down memory lane to France since 1949, let’s go back to worldwide rankings one more time if you don’t mind. You saw my April World Round-up and the Top 100 best-selling models worldwide over the First Quarter of 2012, but now I can share with you the most popular cars around the globe for April.

Enough of the world? No worries, you can visit 163 additional countries and territories in my blog, go on, you know you want to!

So looking at the worldwide best-selling cars ranking for April a big question looms: can the Ford Focus ever beat the Toyota Corolla to become the world’s most popular car?

The Focus ranks #2 this month…

In April the Toyota Corolla is faithful to its worldwide pole position this month with 93,728 sales while the ‘ Prius threat’ seems to have gone away, with the hybrid’s sales down to 69,642 this month at #4. Note that in this figure are included 23,657 Prius c/Aqua and 14,362 Prius v.

But is the Corolla domination set to last forever? With a new generation of the model out in Japan and due to be launched worldwide by the end of the year, you could argue so.

However, the last generation Ford Focus has just hit dealerships across the whole of China, and it’s given the model a healthy kick in sales.

Let’s not beat around the bush much. To have a genuine chance of becoming the world’s favorite car, a model has to:

– Succeed in China, the biggest car market in the world these days

– Succeed in the States, still the #2 car market worldwide

– Succeed in Europe, the #2 car market if it would be counted as one

– As a bonus it’s great if you also succeed in Brazil / Latin America, or India / South East Asia

Anything less and you’re out the picture. Example: the VW Golf is a hit in Europe, but not so much in the States and China. And it’s currently got no chance at holding the worldwide pole position.

The Corolla is not sot hot right now in Europe (even in its hatchback version called Auris) but it compensates by big sales in South East Asia and the Middle East. Interestingly, the Corolla has managed to keep the lead in worldwide sales despite miserable sales in its native Japan where it’s absolutely beaten up by the Prius family: it sold a meager 3,331 units in April vs. 40,387 for the Prius/Prius+/Prius c! Less than one-tenth!

Now that the Focus is a hit in China ( it ranked #3 there in April and is #2 in May), is doing OK in the US ( #13 in April, #11 in May) and is still in the Top 5 in Europe ( #5 in April), it is up to #2 worldwide in April with over 80,000 units sold worldwide, my estimation being 81,337 exactly.

Which brings me to seriously ask the question that Ford has been wanting us to ask since they launched the ‘Global’ Focus nameplate back in 1998: could the Focus become the world’s most popular car?

And the answer is yes. Especially because as you go into more detail and look at the different versions making up each nameplate’s sales, you realize some of them add up to 5 different generations of the nameplate still produced at a given corner of the globe (that’s if a globe had corners…) Yes I’m looking at you VW Jetta: #3 worldwide in April with 79,603 units but between the 6th generation available in Europe and the US, the 2nd gen available in China and 4th and 5th gen available in South America and China again, we are hardly talking about the same car anymore.

Even the Corolla’s sales are made up of over 10,000 units of the previous generation model still on sale in China. Add all hatchbacks sold under the Auris name in Europe and the Matrix MPV version counted as Corolla in the US and the 93,728 April figure goes down to well below 75,000.

None of that for the Focus.

Apart from a few thousands previous gen model sold in Brazil and Argentina, the entirety of April’s figure is made up of the new, global generation shared across the entire planet. Technically that makes it the most popular ‘single model’ in the world already.

So there, take that Corolla.

In other news, the Toyota Camry is up one spot on March to #5 with 66,500 sales and is followed by the VW Passat at 65,200 while the Hyundai Elantra is up 7 ranks on March to get back within the worldwide Top 10 at #7 with 62,734 sales.

VW Golf and Ford Fiesta are down whereas the Hyundai Accent is up 6 spots to #10 thanks to strong sales pretty much everywhere, from its native South Korea where it reached its highest ranking to cold but booming Russia where it ranked at an amazing 2nd spot under the name Solaris.

The Chevrolet Cruze may be down 8 spots on March, it still sells a remarkable 57,782 units. Breaking records in India, the Suzuki Swift/Dzire is up to #17 with 47,954 sales.

You can check out the Full April 2012 Wordwide Top 20 best-selling models ranking here.

Other interesting links for you:

Last World Round-up: World April 2012 Round-up: Suzuki Swift and Mazda CX-5 impress

Previous month: World March 2012: Is the Prius the #1 car in the world?

Previous Quarter: World Q1 2012: Discover the Top 100 best-selling cars!

Previous year: World Full Year 2011: Updated Top 100 now available!

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

More by Matt Gasnier

Join the conversation
2 of 9 comments
  • DIYer DIYer on Jun 20, 2012

    Rode as a passenger in a 2012 Focus a week ago. Kind of small, a fair amount of road noise. When the car comes to a stop and idles, there is a vibration coming from the transmission. The guy who owns the car said he considered the Fiesta, but it was too small. He said he is happy with his Focus so far, says he gets 38 mpg overall doing mostly freeway driving. The Focus is very similar to a VW Jetta, except the Jetta has a better suspension.

  • CJinSD CJinSD on Jun 20, 2012

    The Emperor's New Car.

  • DS No for 2 reasons. 1-Every new car pipelines data back to the manufacturer; I don't like it with domestic, Japanese and Euro companies and won't put up with it going to Chinese companies that are part financed by their government. 2-People have already mentioned Vinfast, but there's also the case of Hyundai. Their cars were absolutely miserable for years before they learned enough about the US market
  • Theflyersfan Well, if you're on a Samsung phone, (noticing all of the shipping boxes are half Vietnamese), you're using a Vietnam-built phone. Apple? Most of ours in the warehouse say China, but they are trying to spread out to other countries because putting all eggs in the Chinese basket right now is not wise. I'm asking Apple users here (the point of above) - if you're OK using an expensive iPhone, where is your Made in China line in the sand? Can't stress this enough - not being confrontational. I am curious, that's all. Is it because Apple is California-based that manufacturing location doesn't matter, vs a company in a Beijing skyscraper? We have all weekend to hopefully have a civil discussion about how much is too much when it comes to supporting companies being HQ-ed in adversarial countries. I, for one, can't pull the trigger on a Chinese car. All kinds of reasons - political, human rights, war mongering and land grabbing - my morality is ruling my decisions with them.
  • Jbltg Ford AND VAG. What could possibly go wrong?
  • Leonard Ostrander We own a 2017 Buick Envision built in China. It has been very reliable and meets our needs perfectly. Of course Henry Ford was a fervent anti-semite and staunch nazi sympathizer so that rules out Ford products.
  • Ravenuer I would not.