By on January 30, 2014

China traffic jam. Picture by National GeographicFor the first time in history, more than 20 million new vehicles were sold annually in a single country…

What were the sales highlights of 2013? A combination of big growth in certain markets and specific segments  meant for an interesting 2013. Hit the jump to see my own highlights.

1. China becomes first country above 20 million sales

The Chinese new car market breaks a new record in 2013: up 14% year-on-year to 21.98 million, making China the first country in the history of automobile to clock over 20 million new vehicle sales in a single year. It is predicted China will cross another historical milestone (30 million sales) by 2020. The significant trend in the Chinese passenger car market in 2013 is the return to grace of local models: the Wuling Hongguang, newly moved out of the LCV category, leads the overall ranking, while the Haval (ex-Great Wall) H6 reached a record 7th place in July and the Emgrand EC7 double-dipped in the Top 10…

2014 GMC Sierra Dynamic front three quarterThe US are back to their old habits: buying pick-up trucks in droves.

2. US market back to pre-recession levels

2013 is the year the US market returned to its pre-recession levels and habits: buying over 15 million new light vehicles annually including heaps of pick-up trucks. In May, with 71,604 sales the Ford F-Series crossed the 70,000 monthly units milestone for the first time since March 2007, hitting its best May figure since 2005 and its best month overall in almost 7 years, since August 2006 when it sold 76,804 units… In June, the SAAR (Seasonally Adjusted Annual Sales Rate), a key barometer of long-term sales trends, surged to just under 16 million, compared to 14.4 million a year ago, officially bringing the industry back to its late 2007 level. Finally in October, for the first time since February 2006, the top 3 most popular vehicles in the USA were all XXL pick-up trucks. The Ford F-Series led, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado and the RAM 1500/3500. In the same vein, the Ford F-Series had already beaten the all-time annual sales record in Canada by the end of October at 106,861 units.

Tesla Model S Norway September 2013. Picture courtesy of P2The Tesla Model S incredibly topped the Norwegian models ranking in September.

3. Tesla Model S and Nissan Leaf are superstars in Norway

Norway was the site of a couple of shocking sales events in 2013. In September, the Model S did what no electric car ever managed before in the world: finish one month in pole position in any country. Selling an incredible 616 units for a 5.1% market share vs. 561 units and 4.6% for the VW Golf, the Model S was the first model to beat the VW Golf in a Norwegian monthly ranking in 2013 . With notoriety comes criticism, and Tesla has had to endure the repercussions of a couple of its models setting fire after an accident, which didn’t prevent it to place the Model S back up to pole position in Norway in December! The other big winner in Norway is the Nissan Leaf: it topped the sales charts in October thanks to 716 units for a splendid 5.6% market share!

Peugeot 2008 Renault Captur World July 2013. Picture courtesy of LargusA big tick of approval for the Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 in 2013.

4. Renault Captur and Peugeot 2008 revive French manufacturers

A lot was resting on the two new French mini SUVs this year as both manufacturers had been struggling profit-wise since the global financial crisis. And both hit the market on the nail. The Renault Captur brilliantly broke into the French Top 5 for the first time in June at #4 and has not left it since, peaking at #3 in September. For its part the Peugeot 2008 was among the 10 most popular cars in France in July for the first time before stepping up to #4 in October and remaining there in November. Both models have also garnered solid sales figures all through Europe, with the Captur sometimes even passing the Clio IV and the 2008 passing the 208! I’m betting on one of them breaking into the overall European Top 10 briefly in 2014.

Daihatsi Ayla Indonesia November 2013Daihatsu Ayla

5. Toyota minis succeed in Indonesia

The Toyota Agya and Daihatsu Ayla twins were launched ‘under the radar’ in September in Indonesia as Toyota’s answer to a new government law. In a country obsessed with low-cost MPV, it was a daring move indeed. The Low Cost Green Car (LCGC) regulation exempts from the luxury tax models made up from at least 60% domestic components, priced between Rp 50-85 million with a maximum displacement of 1,200cc and fuel efficiency of at least 20 km/l. Only two months after their first appearance in the Indonesian sales charts, (in November) the Toyota Agya is up to an incredible 2nd place with 6,591 sales and a 5.9% market share, while its twin the Daihatsu Ayla is #4 with 5,095 sales and 4.6%. This means the two locally produced models already account for over 10% of the Indonesian new car market, only two months after launch! 2014 results will be fascinating to follow indeed.

Nissan Qashqai World 20132014 Nissan Qashqai. The new model should improve the nameplate’s sales further in 2014.

6. Nissan SUVs continue to conquer Europe

In 2013 Nissan proved that it had changed the European car market forever with its UK-produced Qashqai and Juke SUVs. The Qasqhai reached a record overall #5 spot in Europe in February, up 4% year-on-year in a market down 10% in spite of its 6 years of age, and remained #5 in March thanks to a massive 29,116 sales, delivering the highest ever ranking for a Japanese model in the continent. The Qashqai also broke its ranking, volume and share records in Italy in March at #6 and became only the 2nd Japanese model to ever crack the monthly French Top 10 in March at #9, repeating this feat in May at #10 and equalling the French-produced Toyota Yaris which did so in January and March 2007. The smaller Nissan Juke also reached new heights in 2013: it brokes into the UK Top 10 for the very first time in January (#9) and managed that feat 3 more times during the year! It ranked #10 in February, and #9 in July before hitting a record 7th position in October. The Juke also broke into the Spanish Top 10 for the first time ever at #9.

Hyundai HB20 Brazil February. Picture courtesy of Carplace

7. The Hyundai HB20 invades Brazil

Launched in late 2012, the Hyundai HB20 reached a record 4th place in Brazil in February thanks to 10,179 sales, the first time a Korean model managed to sell over 10,000 monthly units win Brazil and the first Korean model to ever rank within the Brazilian monthly Top 5. The HB20 broke its monthly volume and share records one more time in March to 12,537 units and 5.6% share. Unveiled at the same time, the Chevrolet Onix reaches a very similar sales level over 2013.

Renault Duster Russia October 2012Renault Duster

8. Success of Renault’s low-cost range

2013 confirmed Renault is definitely on the right track with its low-cost Dacia brand, inaugurated by the Logan back in 2004. Sold under the Dacia or Renault brands depending on the country, the most successful models of the range this year were the Duster and Sandero, breaking records and passing significant milestones across the planet. Notably, the Duster climbed onto the Russian monthly podium for the first time in November and ranked inside the Indian Top 10 for two consecutive months. The Sandero took the overall lead in Spain in January & August and jumped inside the French podium in July and August for only the second and third time ever, the firsts for this generation.

Peugeot 301 Algeria June 2013. Picture courtesy of auto-utilitaire.comPeugeot 301

9. Is Peugeot back to Africa?

Why the French (and specifically Peugeot) lost the African continent is one of the 10 things I don’t understand in the worldwide car industry nowadays. This fact may be about to be overturned thanks to the success of the Peugeot 301, conceived specifically for emerging markets. The 301 finished 2013 at #2 below only the Dacia Logan in Algeria#5 in Tunisia and #10 in Morocco, while it managed a 4th place in Egypt in July. Could these performances signal the rebirth of Peugeot in Africa?

Audi A3 2013. Picture courtesy of L'Argus

10. The Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia break new ground in Europe

This year Audi placed a second model inside the monthly overall European Top 10: the A3 is among Europe’s top 10 most popular cars in April at #9 thanks to 16,787 sales. Before the A3, only the A4 managed to rank inside the European Top 10, peaking at #2 in August 2008. But the A3 didn’t stop there: thanks to an all-time high 2nd place in Germany, it hit a record 6th spot Europe-wide in August and #2 in its segment behind only the VW Golf and above the Ford Focus and Opel Astra. A lot of records in 2013 for a 17 year-old nameplate!

Skoda Octavia World October 2013Skoda Octavia

The other VAG Group model to break new ground in Europe this year is the Skoda Octavia, jumping into the Top 5 best-sellers for the first time in October and repeating this performance in November, whereas it had only managed twoEuropean Top 10 rankings in the past (in January 2012 and last August when it both ranked #10). This is the first time a Skoda ranks inside the European Top 5, with the only other Skoda to achieve a Top 10 finish being the Skoda Fabia (#10 in August 2008 and #8 in August 2009). In other Skoda news, the Czech brand managed to place its entire range (7 models!) inside the Top 10 at home in Czech Republic for the first time in history.

What are your worldwide sales highlights for 2013? Comment on here to let us all know.

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22 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: The Top 10 Highlights of 2013...”

  • avatar

    The growth model in China, I am afraid, is not sustainable forever. Therefore the projection of 30 million cars by 2020 is too optimistic.

    As a native from China, my wife went back to China to visit her family one month ago. The natural environment is horrible, she experienced foggy weather for days, which covers half of Eastern China, caused by pollution from all factories, iron and steel, chemical, etc. She coughed for days after her return, with her throat and lung irritated by the poisonous air.

    The human environment is none the better. Roads were crowded with stuck cars (with more than 20 million out of factories each year), people drove like crazy, disregarding traffic laws, cars parked everywhere, among other chaos. She didn’t dare to drive a car during her 20 day visit, despite the fact that she had been driving in US for 17 years.

    • 0 avatar

      China is like a kid in a candy store. They opened up their markets to a bit of Capitalism and saw a massive influx of wealth and products they’d never seen before. Even for that country’s huge population, there is still a majority that cannot afford even the cheapest of these new cars. Selling 15 million in ’12 opened the floodgates. Selling 20 million this year put them at almost maximum flow. I expect growth to plateau within 2 more years and maybe hold up for another two before a massive drop as those who want and can afford to purchase finally have their toys.

      Meanwhile, like that kid with a new toy, their population is running wild with it. Just as there are scofflaws in the US, the majority of new drivers in China are currently ignoring rules simply because they can get away with it; China simply didn’t plan for such a huge traffic problem and doesn’t have enough law enforcement capability in place. Here in the States you can roughly get away with one traffic patrol per thousand drivers, though that’s still too few to catch all the offenders. There, for now, they need one per 100 and that still wouldn’t be enough. Enforcement needs to include proper punishment as well. Laws are worthless unless they are strongly enforced. The problem in China now is that even if they did crack down, they’ve set the pattern and traffic in Chinese cities will mirror those in other global locations where the car is simply too new, too popular, too quickly. A car is very easy to drive and getting easier–but VERY difficult to master.

      The only resolution? Fully automated cars that prohibit the operator from being anything more than a passenger.

      • 0 avatar

        You are absolutely right on automated cars. They will be immensely popular and save tens of thousands of lives, because there are so many new drivers on the road in China and because the traffic is incredibly bad.

        The truth is, the majority of the buyers don’t NEED a car per se. The public transit system are generally in good condition, and owning a car is less economical than calling a taxi. But the social and income divisions are much deeper in China than in America, people with decent income have to own a car to let the world know that they are doing well, just like a CEO in America probably won’t do by driving a Corolla.

        As a side note, most cars in China have leather seats, even the least expensive ones. I think it is because cars are luxury goods there, regardless of its MSRP.

  • avatar

    And with the Audi A3, a 2-door model finally breaks back into the top 10–in at least one region. Maybe, just maybe, the automakers will realize there’s still a market for 2-door models. (At least find some way to hide the back doors if you HAVE to have them. I’m SICK of sedans!)

    • 0 avatar

      I suspect those A3 numbers included the 5-door Sportback model which is already on sale in Europe. I have a previous-gen Sportback that I’d like to replace at some point, but it looks as if NA will only be getting the new sedan (yawn) at launch.

  • avatar

    i wonder what kind of subsidies the norwegians have for electric vehicles. its the only country in the world where an ev sold more units than any other type of vehicle. i mean norway is different but…….

    • 0 avatar

      Not “any other type of vehicle” but more than any single other MODEL of vehicle. There is a difference. I might note that gasoline in Norway is quite expensive–almost 3x what we pay here in the States. So the incentive is simply lower operating costs.

      • 0 avatar

        Er, no.

        EVs are exempted from Norway’s 25% VAT (sales tax.)

        They don’t have to pay registration fees.

        They get to use bus lanes.

        They don’t have to pay tolls.

        They get to park for free. (In Oslo, that alone would save thousands of dollars per year.)

        • 0 avatar

          In Norway those are actually small ticket items, the big ticket items are the CO2 tax, the engine horsepower rating tax and vehicle weight tax. Neighbouring Sweden also has a vat rate of 25 % but no other taxes specific to cars besides the road tax but cars are MUCH cheaper, a Swedish Volvo S60 T3 costs 36 921 USD in Sweden and a whopping 55 800 USD in Norway. As power and emissions goes up the difference widens, a S60 T6 in AWD in “Summum” trim sets you back 61,740 USD in Sweden and a mind boggling 132,387 USD in Norway.

        • 0 avatar


          • 0 avatar

            Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

            Grab your rod and reel, and have at it:


          • 0 avatar

            Still hungry. Keep trying. Based on other responses to your comment, what you portend seems to have very little effect.

          • 0 avatar

            Have you ever used Google? It’s been around for awhile.

            And the point being made was addressed in my reference to registration costs.

            I should have also mentioned that the annual fees, road tax or whatver they call it in Norway is also reduced for EVs.

            All told, cars are very costly in Norway due to various taxes and fees, and EVs don’t have to pay most of those.

            All told, your claim that gas prices were the sole motivator was utterly and totally wrong, i.e. consistent with your MO.

          • 0 avatar

            I offered an example, not an all-inclusive report. As demonstrated above, yours is hardly all inclusive either.

            By the way, my fishing seems to be working quite well. I just keep hooking the same fish every time I throw it back.

          • 0 avatar

            “So the incentive is simply lower operating costs”

            Apparently not.

          • 0 avatar

            Lower taxes aren’t an operating cost? Parking isn’t an operating cost? You’re really not doing yourself any good with that kind of argument, my fishy friend.

          • 0 avatar

            “i wonder what kind of subsidies the norwegians have for electric vehicles.”

            “I might note that gasoline in Norway is quite expensive–almost 3x what we pay here in the States. So the incentive is simply lower operating costs.”

            You were obviously referring only to the price of fuel. You blew it.

            And no, taxes paid once are not an operating cost.

            And you obviously weren’t aware of the VAT exemption or anything else that I mentioned, otherwise you wouldn’t have demanded a reference in your usual skeptical (and uninformed) manner.

            Have you checked out that Google website yet? When used intelligently, it can be useful.

          • 0 avatar

            Who said the taxes are only paid once? Do you only pay property tax at the time of purchase and never again? How about that CO2 tax, wouldn’t that be based on miles driven? On and on you continue to bite at my line and time after time I keep throwing you back in the river.
            My basic point stands DESPITE your continued arguing: The incentive is simply lower operating costs.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Please correct me if I’m wrong…but, doesn’t Norway have a significant amount of electrical power coming from wind farms?

    I know that Denmark does, and my understanding was that Norway was also following the trend.

  • avatar

    I understood that in Norway, a VW Golf costs the same as a Tesla due to far lower, if any, taxes. The country rewards green.

    $134,000 tax saving on Tesla Model S

    At the same price as a premium Golf, I’d probably try out a Tesla myself, or leave the country and go somewhere else that doesn’t stand everyday logic on its head.

    • 0 avatar

      Ironically, the policy has also helped to get affluent commuters out of public transit and into private cars. (I’m presuming that particular consequence wasn’t intentional.)

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