By on April 10, 2013

Yesterday, Ford announced that its Focus “is officially the world’s best-selling passenger car,” with 1,020,410 units sold worldwide in 2012. That according to registration data compiled by Polk.

“Wrong” Toyota said today.

Toyota’s spokesman Ryo Sakai told Reuters that Toyota sold 1.16 million Corollas in 2012 and that “Toyota still sees the Corolla as the world’s most popular car”.

Last year, Ford got into similarly hot water by quoting a report by HIS Automotive, setting off an intense discussion about the finer differences of models, body styles and name plates.

Global Corolla Sales CY2012
Country Corolla S/D Corolla H/B Corolla H/B HV
U.S.A. 286,560  Corolla 0 0
North America Total 345,033  Corolla 0 0
Europe (incl W. RU) 63,481  Corolla 59,320  Auris 23,693  Auris Hybrid
China Total 269,078  Corolla & EX 0 0
Asia (except China) 153,386  Corolla Altis 0 0
Oceania 14,417  Corolla 29,727  Corolla 0
Middle East 83,949  Corolla 0 0
Africa 29,410  Corolla 2,671  Auris 434  Auris Hybrid
Central & South Am 91,071  Corolla 538  Auris 47  Auris Hybrid
Japan 33,794  Corolla Axio 10,119  Auris
Global Total 1,083,619 29,727
Corolla W/G Corolla MPV MATRIX Corolla TALL H/B
U.S.A. 0 0 4,387  Matrix 19,787  Scion xB
North America Total 0 0 17,369  Matrix 21,274  Scion xB
Europe (incl W. RU) 0 37,335  Verso 0 0
China Total 0 22,331  E’Z 0 0
Asia (except China) 0 0 0 0
Oceania 706  Corolla Wagon 0 0 921  Rukus
Middle East 0 0 0 0
Africa 0 824  Verso 0 0
Central & South Am 0 28  Verso 0 0
Japan 39,705  Corolla Fielder 7,007  Corolla Rumion
Global Total 40,411 7,007
Global Corolla nameplate total 1,160,764
Including derivatives 1,381,842

TTAC obtained a spreadsheet from Toyota’s car counting department that shows the Corolla ahead of the Focus any way you look at it.  The Toyota Sedan alone racked up 1,083,610 in sales, handily beating the 1,020,410 of the Focus. Various other Corolla versions bring the name plate total to 1,160,764.

Would one count the many derivatives and other model names under which the Corolla is sold around the globe, the total would grow to 1,381,842 units.

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57 Comments on “Corolla, Not Focus, World’s Best-Selling Car, Toyota Says...”

  • avatar

    I believe Ford. If nothing else because it’s better than the ever so boring Toyota.

    • 0 avatar

      We can tell Bertel is back.

    • 0 avatar


      Toyota will make a deal with just about anyone. Did you hear about these ridiculously long loan terms they are offering? What people tend to forget is that Toyota has a strong bank behind it – stronger than GM and Ford – not to mention the backing of its government and the backing of our own corrupt government officials making backroom deals with them.

      It’s no different than Hyundai, Kia, LG and Samsung – all of them are slush funds to transfer wealth from America to South Korea in preparation for the war. So odd that the media did its best to DESTROY Toyota’s image just as Sonatas were hitting the dealers. Hmmmmmm?

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Sorry Marcelo, but I believe Toyota.

      Down here they’re out for blood. They’re not mocking around.

      First OEM in the C-segment to move drive away price to $19990. Not to mention the 0% interest loans, the incentives, capped service prices… even the new hatch looks good. If the new sedan looks half as good as the current hatch…

      Adding to my case are the tables posted in this very site by BS and MG during 2012.

      • 0 avatar

        Hola Athos!

        Here Toyota is sweating to move the Etios. They launched it, for a price smaller than announced. Then they reduced the price. Then they reduced it again. People who bought it for the higher prices are not happy! I think they may have reached the high point in sails. If they do reduce the price more, they could really make waves. Horrid-looking car though. The hatch looks like it’s been hit when viewed from the back and the sedan looks like it’s melted. Let’s see how much stomach for a fight they have. Just about everybody can cut prices in Brazil.

        As to Corolla, the new Civic and Cruze pass it in sales from time to time. I believe if you count the Cruze hatch and sedan together, they have outsold the Corolla the whole year. The Focus hatch also sells well here and disputes with the Cruze the leadership in that particular subsegment. The Corolla and Civic don’t have hatches here.

        As to numbers, put all the Logan variants together, lump them with their Nissan brothers and they hot on the tail of the Corolla-Focus. Like a poster said below, put the Kuga, Escape and other things in Focus sales and the numbers are much closer. VW with Jetta, Santana, Golf, Vento (?)and others too. Pretty endless discussion and pointless.

        Anyway it’s not important. My point is that I’m glad that a car like the Focus can hold a candle to the Corolla. Maybe that’ll signal car makers that you can make something at least a little bit engaging to drive and still sell. Who knows, even Toyota may deem it worthy to breathe some life into the Corolla zombie. Now, that would be something!

        • 0 avatar
          Athos Nobile


          Even at 2nd place, Ford’s is a very good showing. No arguing on that.

          I don’t think Cruze ended in the top 3.

          Regarding the Etios, it’s their first try at a low cost car. They learn and change. 2nd gen Etios will be VERY different. Not convinced? see 1st vs 3rd gen Prius. 1st vs 2nd gen Lexus ES.

  • avatar

    Regardless, it may be too late to change the public’s impression of who is #1. Ford’s announcement was on the news yesterday and it’s plastered everywhere else. It is already embedded into the public’s mind that the Focus is the best selling car. Many car buying decisions will be influenced by that (possibly) inaccurate information.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      I beg to differ. If it turns out that Toyota’s figures are correct and that Ford lied (or misled, at best), then it’ll do Ford’s corporate image no favours, at all.

      They’ve already got this issue of “overstating their hybrid fuel economy figures”, they don’t need “overstating the popularity of their cars” added to the list…

  • avatar

    I understand how much fun it is to wave the flag in your competitor’s face and say “HA HA, we BEAT you!”.

    In terms of the market place, does the customer care? Do Corolla/Focus owners really take pride in boasting to their neighbor, “You know, this bland baby is the MOST COMMON CAR in the WURRLD.”?

    Gosh, I hope not.

  • avatar

    The Tata Nano is never going to do as well as expected with the Corolla around.

  • avatar

    I don’t know, I have had several Fords since starting driving back during the reign of Jimmah Car-tah, and none were very good. I swore off them in 1984 when my T-bird developed a indoor pool everytime it rained. Then, deciding to try them just one more time – I got a 2011 Taurus SEL that developed a transmission issue so baffling that after a week at the dealer, they still didn’t know what or why it didn’t shift correctly. Screw that, I am NOT a Ford guy, and from talking to the owners of them (I detail a few) I wasn’t alone with problems. So, I’m very happy happy happy with my ol boring appliance Camry that I traded for. It’s not a mid-life crisis sports car but I do like it a little more each day and can see myself driving it for a long time to come, long after that Ford has be recycled.
    Oh- and to Ford’s bragging on the Focus, yeah right, just like that 47 mpg Fusion too huh.

  • avatar

    This sounds like Congressional Budget Office accounting. Maybe Ford should tally the Focus “Kuga” and the Focus “C-Max” and the Focus “Escape” and the Focus “Transit Connect”.

  • avatar
    Cammy Corrigan

    Gotta love the blogosphere.

    Ford states that the Ford Focus is the most popular car in the world, the blogosphere pats them on the back.

    Toyota states that the Toyota Corolla is the most popular car in the world, the blogosphere shouts “LIES!”.

    How’s about we wait for a third party with independent figures to verify who’s got the world’s most popular car, eh…?

    • 0 avatar

      Well they are counting Scion XBs as Corollas, among other shared platform cars.

      If this was 2006, they would be counting the Celica, too. Their numbers are definitely stretched.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford’s claim was supported by an “independent third party”, RL Polk. Toyota says Polk’s numbers under-counted the Corolla by nearly 300,000 units. It’s not that simple.

      • 0 avatar

        Bertel, have you gotten to the bottom of this? Why such a big disparity?

        • 0 avatar

          @corntrollio – It’s simple. Toyota is counting Corollas “SOLD” to Toyota dealers and Polk is counting actual sales to consumers or what’s known as ‘registered owners’. They’re always similar totals, but seldom the same. Unless 100% were sold to consumers in the same calender year that they were “SOLD” to dealers. The difference, in other words, is what was left sitting on dealer lots after Dec 31.

  • avatar

    Isn’t Toyota counting their chickens before they hatch? Aren’t they simply counting Corollas they stuffed Toyota dealers with? As opposed to Corollas bought by consumers like RL Polk reports?

    It’s a silly contest either way. Let’s get a breakdown of which generates more profits. Isn’t that the reason for the contest? I’ll bet neither car breaks the top 10.

  • avatar

    This is pretty funny – kind of like a Russian face-slapping contest – no one really wins!

    For the record, I wouldn’t buy either a Ford Focus or a Toyota Corolla. I’d go for the Civic if it came down to it, a better car in every way, and this from a Chevy guy!

    • 0 avatar

      not me! I’d get the focus, chevy, citroen or renault. Might get peugeot or fiat. Would never get any of the japanese, korean or vw.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        obviously you don’t care about reliability, do you get free auto care due to your standing in the auto media?

        • 0 avatar

          “Obviously you don’t care about perceived reliability. You probably have a life and care more about style, better fuel economy, value and lower long term costs. You are probably the kind of educated buyer who would rather buy Focus or a Cruze, either of which completely outclass the Corolla in every possible way. Why would you want to stand out when you can blend into the masses with a boring and stodgy Corolla designed for 83yr old grandmas? ”


          • 0 avatar

            You said it better than I could alluster. Thanks.

          • 0 avatar

            Perceived reliability:

            The plane jane corolla with its tried and true 1.8L engine and 4spd auto will probably outlast the sun. The Focus dual clutch powershift is already sketchy (multiple re-flashes, burning clutch smell), the Cruze’s small turbo engine’s durability is suspect hauling around 3100 lbs.

            Better fuel economy:

            The Corolla, albeit rated not so highly by the EPA, is regularly one of the most fuel efficient compacts, in spite of the new tech competition. Look it up on fuelly.

            Value: Toyota is blowing Corollas out the door, when I was shopping I could get a new LE for $15k upfront pricing.

            Long term costs: cheap insurance, anvil reliability, good mpg, and some of the best resale around. No contest compared to anything besides perhaps a Civic.

            For the record I test drove the aforementioned LE (grey on grey) and found it awful in terms of interior design, ergonomics, and the unrelenting cheapness amd blandness all around. Makes my vanilla Civic LX seem like a ferrari, what with the manual transmission, beige on black interior, and dark cherry paint.

            Soulless? Yes. But extremely competent at what it sets out to do, besting many newer competitors in many areas important to small car buyers.

      • 0 avatar

        Peugeot, Citroen , Renault and Fiat ? We get them here and they are all absolute junk. Makes a Chrysler look like a Lexus. I can understand you finding a Corolla boring , but you just seem to have some sort of hate for the Japanese ?

        • 0 avatar

          Hey thavash!

          My problem with Japanese cars is that I don’t like the design, I don’t like the ride. With options from all other companies I’d buy any of them over the Corolla, though I’ll buy a Civic over a Jetta or Hyundai-Kia. Bear in mind I live in Brazil. Here we have such things as Logan, Brazilian-Chevy Cobalt that do what Cruze-Corolla-Civic-Focus do for a fraction of the price. Cruze-Corolla–Civic-Focus-Elantra here are all for only snob value. Since I put a minimum on snob value, yes, quite frankly, I intensely dislike the Japanese Civic-Corolla duo, while I root for the Focus-Cruze as they are the underdogs.

          I like a Miata though, I liked the 90s Civic hatch. The exterior of the current Civic is good (but the interior…). So no, I don’t despise Japanese cars, but I don’t see any reason to buy one right now.

          Reliability? I think ease of maintenance is just as important. In Brazil, that makes VWFiatFordGM with Renault fast catching up, the default choice.

          Different markets, different conditions, different tastes. The fact is Japanese and Korean cars are just too expensive here, so I don’t really have an interest. Compound that with my distaste for their style and drive, and you arrive arrive at my way of thinking.

          • 0 avatar

            Interesting. Here in South Africa VW and Toyota rule, with Toyota being the maintenance king as you describe and VW probably having more snob appeal.

  • avatar

    I think everyone is missing the most important point that being Toyota actually has a competitor that can threaten Toyota’s claim that the Corolla is the Number 1 selling car in the world. What’s more things are going only to get tougher for Toyota as more competitors enter products in all segments of the auto markets all over the world. VW is gunning for Toyota, as is Hyundai/Kia. I do not think Ford never will take on Toyota in total sales, but Ford my lead Toyota in certain segments, like trucks and small SUV’s.

  • avatar

    Who cares? The Red Sox have the longest-running sellout games. It doesn’t make them a good product.

  • avatar

    Reading the comments, I can see why Ford figures they can get away with lying.

  • avatar

    ““Toyota still sees the Corolla as the world’s most popular car”.

    That ladies and gentlemen, is a sign that all hope is lost and the world is completely FUBAR’d. The cheap yen(thanks to BOJ manipulation) has allowed Toyota to undercut the competition in price. The corolla is generally $2000 less than a similarly equipped Focus or $3000 less than a similarly equipped Cruze. The difference inceases as you go east, to anywhere from $5000 in South East Asia and $10000 in Japan. Lets not forget that neither Ford or Chevy has any market presence in SE Asia or Japan, where the Corolla sold 200,000 units combined. Toyota competes with Ford in every market without any hurdles.

    • 0 avatar

      Oh boo hoo hoo! More people still buy cars that don’t create horror stories! It’s so unfair. As long as those monsters at Toyota keep selling people cars that don’t break, that don’t wear out before 400,000 kilometers have been reached, and that get good gas mileage, people are going to keep buying them. Just be happy that there are enough people buying Ford’s latest piece of garbage, in spite of it following a long line of cars that often bite their owners, that Ford was confident lying to the public this week. They’re fighting it out with Land Rover for the undependability crown, and you’re worried that not enough people are marching off the cliff. Hilarious.

    • 0 avatar

      lol, you do realize that Yen was very high in 2012 right? And that USD is a lot cheaper now than in 2000’s where it was 10% higher than Euro?


  • avatar

    mcdonalds is the best selling burger too

    • 0 avatar

      I’m at McD’s right now, soaking up the free Wi-Fi and refills. I’m addicted to $1 sausage biscuits and fries, but a avoid the burgers altogether. Their Coke is not deluded like 99% of fast food, convenience and gas stations.

  • avatar

    @ Bertel and et al;

    I would be more than happy to celebrate the Corolla as the world’s more popular selling vehicle IF in fact it was known publically the sales were counted the same between Ford & Toyota.

    Ford claims Polk registration data, which implies retail/fleet deliveries to actual customers. The article about Toyota does not say, so it is not known if they are also throwing in deliveries to dealers as ‘sales’. Therefore, this may be a pissing match about nothing, because it is not an apples to apples comparison. Numbers don’t lie, but they can be arranged and rearranged to tell any manner of lies one can dream up…

  • avatar

    >>Ford states that the Ford Focus is the most popular car in the world<<

    World cries.

    Like Ford is known for telling the truth – Ecoboost anyone?

    Fusion Hybrid? 37 mpg real world:

  • avatar

    If Ford really wants bragging rights, they’ll need to rename more of their Focus-based models to contain the word “Focus” in them.

    Either that, or build a popular compact sedan in Japan that has little or nothing to do with the model of the same name that’s sold in North America, but count them as the same model.

  • avatar

    But Ford can say that its Focus is pretty much the same anywhere in the Globe. At most there are two variants: The current generation and the old one. Corollas come in many shapes and sizes, even the Matrix is called a Corolla. I don’t recognize the ‘corolla’ in the main picture, for example. It’s like GM’s Cutlass in this regard. So, one can argue Toyota’s not playing fair with Corolla. For example, the Focus had to be successfull in both Europe and North America with basically the same design. European Corollas, on the other hand, is very Euro-centric vehicle specifically designed to appeal to European tastes, and is very different that North American Corollas.

  • avatar

    Like others have said, we have some Carollas and then there are these other different Carollas over here.

    Drove one in Melbourne a few weeks ago, completely different car to the outdated one we have here in the US.

  • avatar

    I rented a 2012 Focus last year and found it to be pretty impressive for a newer Ford.

    Would I buy one? Nah. Would I rent a Toyota? Nah.

    But as long as they bring in the profits, who cares who’s #1?

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