The 170 Best Selling Cars Around The Globe Over The First 8 Months of 2012

Matt Gasnier
by Matt Gasnier

After trips to Iran, Japan, Russia, wealthy America, Puerto Rico and California, let’s just go crazy and have a look at the entire world.

Yawn? That’s fine. You can discover the best-selling models in 169 additional countries and territories in my blog. But you won’t know which of the Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla holds the title of world’s most popular car. Unless you have a look at the Top 150 best-selling models worldwide for the month of August 2012

Back to our 8 months, year-to-date Top 170 world best-sellers ranking.



Hard to say.

* Discover the Full Top 170 best-selling models worldwide here *

But before I start, please notice these August and 8 months figures, not September as not all data has come through yet for that month. So the impact of the islands diplomatic row between Japan and China is not visible in the ranking yet.

Now as always with this type of ranking, there is a lot of controversy as to why some models have been bundled together and why some others haven’t. The detail of which models are included in which nameplate counts is detailed at the bottom of the Top 170 ranking in the linked article.

One thing is certain, the Top 2 best-selling models are now solidly installed atop the ranking.

The 11th generation ‘Corolla’ hatchback (Auris in other markets) has just been unveiled in Australia

The Toyota Corolla now totals 782,600 units so far in 2012 and the Ford Focus adding up to 651,299 (based on data in 80 countries). This seems like an easy victory for the Corolla, but it’s actually not the case…

If we zoom in on August worldwide figures, the Toyota Corolla sells 92,384 units vs. 76,018 for the Focus (again based on data in 80 countries). The Corolla figure includes approximately 4,000 11th generation sold in Japan, 70,000 10th generation sold worldwide, 11,500 9th generation sold in China and 6,500 Auris/Blade sold in Europe and Japan. US sales of the 10th gen Corolla include the Matrix but no split is available (I estimate it at 4,000 Matrix this month), and the Auris is called Corolla in Australia & New Zealand but here too no split is available. So if you want a ‘pure’ 10th gen Corolla Sedan worldwide figure for August, I will say it is around 65,000 or 70% of the overall Corolla total.

As far as the Focus is concerned, the 76,018 sales figure for this month does include the hatchback and sedan versions, and an unconfirmed amount of 2nd generation models sold around the world, notably in Latin America and China which could be between 10 and 15,000, placing the current generation Focus between 60 and 66,000 sales including both hatch and sedan versions… Very close indeed.

When worldwide September figures become available, we should see the Focus taking the lead as the Corolla has suffered from poor sales affecting all Japanese manufacturers in China, whereas the Focus was the best-selling passenger car there, reaching a record 33,587 sales.

Top 10 Best-selling models worldwide – 8 months 2012:

* Discover the Full Top 170 best-selling models worldwide here *

PosModel8m 2012AugJulJun20111Toyota Corolla782,60011112Ford Focus651,29922223Toyota Camry525,725799114VW Golf514,36186435Chevrolet Cruze504,532511886Ford F-Series503,31745797Hyundai Elantra499,391641268Ford Fiesta496,703157659VW Passat489,70898101010Nissan Tiida/Versa/Sunny477,3041112515

* Discover the Full Top 170 best-selling models worldwide here *

In the rest of the worldwide ranking, the Toyota Camry is still brilliantly holding onto the third spot with 525,725 sales, however if it continues at the slightly weaker level of the last few months, it could step down from the podium by year-end.

Below the VW Golf at #4 and potentially also in danger of falling further down in the wake of its generation change, there are a few very solid performers following closely indeed: the Chevrolet Cruze is now #5 year-to-date at 504,532 units (vs. #8 in 2011), ahead of the Ford F-Series at 503,517…

The launch of the new generation in China has pushed the Hyundai Elantra up to #6 worldwide

…and the Hyundai Elantra at 499,391, including the last 3 generations of the model still on sale simultaneously in China and other parts of the world. They all pass the Ford Fiesta which goes from #5 after 7 months to #8 after 8…

The VW Jetta for its part has ranked #3 each of the last 3 months and should break into the year-to-date Top 10 by the time 2012 comes to an end. It is currently Worldwide sales of the VW Jetta still cover 3 separate generations, including the 1984 2nd generation still on sale in China. In August around 2/3 of worldwide Jetta sales were the current 6th generation, sold as Sagitar in China. For a better understanding of which Volkswagens are sold in China, check out the China: Volkswagen who’s who article I wrote a couple of weeks ago on my blog.

The Chevrolet Silverado is up from #30 after 7 months in 2012 to #25 after 8 months

Further down, a lot of models move up the year-to-date ladder thanks to strong August scores. The Chevrolet Silverado is now the Kia Rio/Pride/K2 Toyota Prius Ford Escape/Kuga Dodge Ram

The Fiat Palio/Siena is back in the worldwide Top 50 thanks to a strong Brazilian market

…the Fiat Palio/Siena is back within the worldwide Top 50 at the Nissan Sentra/Pulsar/Tsuru

…Renault/Dacia Duster #63 thanks to strong sales in Latin America, Russia and India, Toyota Prius c/Aqua VW Lavida #80 thanks to the success of the n, Subaru Legacy/Liberty/Outback GMC Sierra VW Fox #96 and Ford Explorer

As far as Chinese models are concerned, the worldwide best-sellers are Commercial Vehicles solely due to their performance at home: the Wuling Sunshine is #17 (vs. #7 in 2011), the Wuling Rongguang/Xingwang is the Foton Forland #41 and the Wuling Hongguang

The best-selling Chinese passenger car is the FAW Xiali N3/N5 at (vs. #83 in 2011), followed by the Chery QQ at the BYD F3 at

…the Great Wall Voleex C30 at

…and the Emgrand EC7 at

Matt Gasnier
Matt Gasnier

More by Matt Gasnier

Join the conversation
3 of 4 comments
  • Jhefner Jhefner on Oct 23, 2012

    Question: when the new Ford Fusion comes out; shouldn't it be bundled with the Ford Mondeo; since it will be a world car at that point? If so, looks like that alone may launch it into the top 25. Does the carmaker, or someone else, determine what gets bundled together?

    • Ranwhenparked Ranwhenparked on Oct 23, 2012

      I think it's the automaker, they're really the only ones that have to gain by artificially inflating their sales numbers. Each generation of VW's Jetta is really a totally different car, but it looks better if they're lumped together. By the same token, I wonder if the Corolla sales figures include the Corolla Verso and Corolla Rumion, which are totally different cars with no sheetmetal in common with the "regular" Corolla. If so, then the Focus might really be #1, since there's only one of those (now).

  • MrWhopee MrWhopee on Oct 24, 2012

    I can see why Ford is calling foul with regard to the Corolla. The hatchback thingy looks nothing like any Corolla I ever known. Can they legitimately be grouped as the same car as the boring, boxy corolla sedan that we normally known about? Not to mention the current 'Corolla' sold worldwide spans several different generations...

  • Lou_BC Maybe if I ever buy a new car or CUV
  • Lou_BC How about telling China and Mexico, we'll accept 1 EV for every illegal you take off our hands ;)
  • Analoggrotto The original Tassos was likely conceived in one of these.
  • Lorenzo The unspoken killer is that batteries can't be repaired after a fender-bender and the cars are totaled by insurance companies. Very quickly, insurance premiums will be bigger than the the monthly payment, killing all sales. People will be snapping up all the clunkers Tim Healey can find.
  • Lorenzo Massachusetts - with the start/finish line at the tip of Cape Cod.