Wuling Hongguang Mini EV

Best-selling cars in the world

THE world’s best-selling vehicle of 2021 was, surprise, surprise, Toyota’s Rav4, which finished a scant 28,000 units ahead of its Corolla stablemate.

All up, a little more than 82 million light vehicles were sold last year, with China leading the pack on 26.2 million from the US, (15m) Japan (4.3m), India (3.5m), Germany (2.8m), France, the UK and Brazil (2m each), followed by Korea, Canada and Russia — all on 1.6 million.

The chart topper in Austria was the Skoda Octavia, in Belgium the Volvo X40, the Fiat Cronos in Argentina and in Algeria it was the Renault Symbol.

Leader in the US and Canada was Ford’s F-150, the Renault Clio was the winner in Turkey, from Peugeot’s 208 and 2008, the Dacia Sandero and VW’s T-Roc.

Tata emerged as the top seller in India, the Chilean market was led by Chery Tiggo 2, Croatia’s by Opel Corsa, Czech Republic by Skoda Fabia and in France Peugeot outsold Renault — for the first time since 1939.

In Iran the market leader was Saipa, Hyundai Tucson was tops in Ireland, Tesla in Norway and MG in Oman.

In Russia, Chinese brand sales surged 102 per cent, but top spot still went to the home-bred Lada and in South Africa, as in Australia, Toyota’s Hilux ute was the top dog.

A surprise outcome in the UK was that VW overtook Ford for the first time and in Vietnam the native VinFast Fadil ended nine years of Toyota dominance.

Geely was the biggest seller in China, from Wuling, BYD and Haval, with the latter remaining the most popular SUV brand since 2017. It also emerged as South Africa’s top small SUV.  

China now has 190 vehicle manufacturers, nearly 100 more than in 2018, while about 30 others have quit.

The new surge is largely due to the allocation of electric car production licences by the Chinese Government, which has triggered the creation of dozens of new EV brands, from Aito right through the alphabet to Zoomlion.

The Top 10 sellers in 2021 were:

  1. Toyota Rav4 – 1,132,000
  2. Toyota Corolla – 1,104,000
  3. Honda CR-V – 903,000
  4. Nissan Sentra – 693,000
  5. Toyota Camry – 681,000
  6. Honda HR-V – 670,000
  7. Ford F-150 – 562,000
  8. Toyota Hilux – 549,000
  9. Tesla Model 3 – 508,000
  10. Honda Accord – 481,000

Although the world’s top seller was an SUV, there were three sedans in the top five.

Also interesting is that the Tesla Model 3 came ninth overall with a volume of 508,000 units. 

The next most popular EV in 2021 was China’s Wuling Mini EV, which ranked 20th worldwide, with 391,000 sales.

Hatchbacks, popular in Europe and South Africa, ranked fairly low in the global market with the best seller, Volkswagen’s Polo, coming 30th overall with a volume of 326,000. It was followed by the Suzuki Swift (34th) and European-spec Toyota Yaris (35th).

Haval’s SUV was 22rd overall on 380,000 sales, just behind Mazda CX-5 (381,000), while VW’s Tiguan was 24th (360,000) Ford’s Escape/Kuga 25th (343,000) VW’s T-Cross 27th (330,000), Hyundai Tucson 31st (320,000), Kia Seltos and BMW X3 were 32nd and 33rd on 318,000 sales each.

Hyundai Kona sales were down eight per cent but sold 285,000 units to claim 40th spot, ahead of the Ford Explorer and Mercedes GLC sales fell 15 per cent and ended the year 48th.

Subaru’s Outback was 88th, Hyundai Venue 91st, Audi’s Q3 and Peugeot 3008 were 96th and 97th.

Mitsubishi’s Outlander came in at number 100.

The statistics were culled from 106 markets: Albania, Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Belarus, Belgium, Bolivia, Bosnia, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guatemala, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malawi, Malaysia, Malta, Mexico, Moldova, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Caledonia, New Zealand, Nicaragua, North Macedonia, Norway, Oman, Pakistan, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Romania, Russia, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam and Yemen. 


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