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World 2011: Hyundai Elantra millionaire, threatens Toyota Corolla!

The Hyundai Elantra is the first Korean car to sell 1 million annual units worldwide 

* THIS ARTICLE IS OUT OF DATE! For the updated 2011 ranking featuring the Corolla, Focus and Golf on the podium CLICK HERE *

The more I was looking at this ranking from Forbes the more I thought some models were missing and some figures were wrong. So now that most 2011 data is out, who else but Best Selling Cars Blog could give you a more accurate World's best-selling models ranking? That's right, no one!

So I will update this article in two waves, with the first now complete:

1) I have added all missing models with my own estimates based on the data published in this blog. Click here to access the detail of my calculations and if you see anything weird please comment on here.

2) I will amend the figures published by Forbes with more accurate estimates: this is now complete and can be viewed here.

There is now a Top 25 available. I have added the VW Polo at #7 with 780,000 sales thanks to its success in Europe, China, Russia, South Africa and India, the Ford F-Series is up to #10 at 705,000 units now that final US and Canada results are in, the Nissan Tiida/Versa is #13 with 590,000 sales and the Opel/Chevrolet Corsa is #14. From #17 and the Toyota Yaris/Vios onwards it is all models I have added. Notice the Toyota Hilux, #1 in 34 countries, ranking #20 with 490,000 sales...

- - -

The main event in 2011 is the fact that the Hyundai Elantra, outside the Top 10 in 2009 and 2010, is now the 2nd best-selling nameplate on the planet with over 1 million units sold...only 10,000 units below the Toyota Corolla! This is a testimony to Hyundai's adaptability in all corners of the world.

Selling more than 1 million units in a single year is a feat not many cars have achieved in the past, and it is the first time a Korean model does so! A very, very significant year indeed. Other millionaire cars that come to mind include the Ford Model T, VW Beetle, Chevrolet Impala, VW Golf, Ford F-Series and of course the Toyota Corolla.

The Toyota Corolla is the world's best-selling car since at least 2005

So yes, Corolla still #1 in spite of tsunamis and floods that disrupted its production, but just. Moreover, it is unclear whether that 1.02 million figure includes the Auris hatchback, sold in some markets (Australia, South Africa) as a Corolla...

In third place worldwide we find the Wuling Sunshine with 943,000 units sold. Now I have reservations on this number because the Sunshine would have sold around 740,000 units in China this year and I'm not sure where the additional 200,000 sales come from...

Ford Focus

Now with a unified design all around the world, the Ford Focus comes in 4th place with 919,000 sales in spite of a slow start for the new generation that ranked 7th in Europe.

Kia Rio/Saipa Pride

At #5 we have the Kia Rio/Pride with 815,337 units. This is an interesting one: yes, as a nameplate the Rio sells that much, but this figure is composed of 3 very different cars. Approximately 500,000 units are of the 1987 first generation Pride sold in Iran under a joint-venture with Saipa where it leads the market by far, the rest is a mix of 2005 Gen 2 and 2011 Gen 3...

A restyled 1984 VW Jetta sold 220,000 units in China

At #6 comes the Ford Fiesta with 781,147 units, ahead of the VW Polo at 780,000 (my estimate), VW Jetta at 745,000, Toyota Camry at 726,000, Ford F-Series at 702,000 and Chevrolet Cruze at 691,000. Again the Jetta figure is composed of very different models: the '84 2nd generation in China, the '98 4th generation in China (called Bora) and Mexico (called Clasico) and the '10 6th generation everywhere else... The Cruze figure, nearly double that of last year and making it #11 in the world, is very impressive and reflects its success in as varied markets as the US, China, Russia and Australia.

The Chevrolet Cruze is sold as a Holden in Australia

Leader in Europe, the VW Golf is only #12 with 648,000 units, a far cry from the million units it used to sell around 10 years ago. The rest of the ranking is based on BSCB's estimates and feature the Honda CR-V at #18, best-selling SUV in the world, and the Hyundai Sonata at #19.

Full Year 2011 Top 25 Ranking Table and calculation details below.

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Categories: World
  1. June 7th, 2012 at 17:25 | #1

    Hey! Thanks for the information. Really impressive ranking and calculation table of vehicles.

  2. peterc
    April 11th, 2012 at 16:10 | #2

    the name punto sure wouldnt work in OZ :)

  3. peterc
    April 11th, 2012 at 16:09 | #3

    the sad & remarkable thing is the f-150 is #10

    nothing else on the list is remotely like it

    depressing – there must be even more wankers out there than i suspected

    I suspect its mostly due to US market

    makes me way less sympathetic to their current plight if they buy new cars which will be useless the minute gas hits $6pg – its now $4.50~

  4. April 1st, 2012 at 00:05 | #4

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  5. Fiattista
    January 27th, 2012 at 08:14 | #5

    and Fiat Punto data?? Punto is the most sold vehicle of Fiat (around 350-400k per years) and was assembly in Italy, India and Brazil…
    and Palio data???

  6. charlarchies
    January 24th, 2012 at 05:22 | #6

    Hey Matt!!
    – I’m sorry but I don’t have the details of sales by country AND by Model… but you’ll find almost what you need on this link:
    Then, in the 2nd page of the Excel-File, you will see all of the sales by Model.

    – The sales of Thalia/Symbol are not included with the sales of Clio (but I think that Clio 2 and 3 are together…).

    Bien cordialement!

    • matgasnier
      January 24th, 2012 at 10:08 | #7

      Thank you Charlarchies this is great! I will amend my world post shortly.

  7. NismoBoy
    January 24th, 2012 at 04:09 | #8

    matgasnie can you get the sales figures from nissan Dualis in Japan? And did you consider that quashqai/Rogue and Rogue are the same model or not?
    My point is because if you add both sales figures from 2011, they surpass easily the 520K units sold.


  8. Anthony
    January 23rd, 2012 at 19:17 | #9

    Matt,a few cars come to mind.
    Honda Jazz,Mazda 2,3,6…did none of them make the grade ???

    Regards Anthony.

    • matgasnier
      January 23rd, 2012 at 20:25 | #10

      Hey Anthony,
      Honda Jazz is in my calculations Excel sheets, estimated at 399,000 so nearly there.
      I haven’t done the Mazdas because although they sell ok everywhere there is no huge market that will get one of them to 400,000+ sales. Will try the Mazda3 just to make sure shortly…
      Thanks for your comment!

  9. Anthony
    January 23rd, 2012 at 16:47 | #11


    I have also often thought that the Golf/Jetta range of cars is actually the top selling range in the
    world,maybee its because they use diffirent names ???

  10. Pete
    January 23rd, 2012 at 10:21 | #12

    Interesting that if you add the Golf & Jetta sales together (considering that the Jetta is basically a Golf with boot/trunk) you get almost 1.4 million sales – and by far away the best selling model in the world!

  11. charlarchies
    January 23rd, 2012 at 01:24 | #13

    I also watched the sales for the Renault Clio in 2011. In November 2011, there was already more than 437 000 units sold in the World… So, with the sales of December (more or less 30 000 units), there are 470 000 units in 2011. So, why didn’t you put it on your Top 25??! :-P
    The same with the Renault Megane (424 000 units already in Nov. 2011… but with Renault Scenic I think…)

    • matgasnier
      January 23rd, 2012 at 09:26 | #14

      Hey Charlarchies,
      Thanks for your note! I didn’t think the Clio would sell that much based on its European figure and its limited availability in the rest of the world. Before I can add it in my Top 25:
      – could you please send me the detail of sales by country
      – could you please confirm that sales of the Renault Symbol/Thalia are not included in this figure as nowadays the Symbol/Thalia and Clio are very different models
      Thanks again

  12. Sandeep
    January 23rd, 2012 at 01:05 | #15

    @Nismoboy: Tiida/Versa isn’t now more selling in India

  13. Max
    January 23rd, 2012 at 00:48 | #16

    What about the first French car ? Clio, Mégane, 207…?

  14. matgasnier
    January 22nd, 2012 at 01:35 | #17


    I have now added the VW Polo in the ranking, Forbes didn’t include it but I have calculated at least 750,489 sales which I have rounded up to 760,000.

    356,409 Europe 27 countries
    5,000 (e) Algeria
    4,358 (Australia)
    122,250 China
    45,655 China previous generation
    74,305 India (Polo+Vento)
    15,171 Japan
    1,500 Malaysia (e)
    52,100 Russia
    59,741 South Africa (Polo+Polo Vivo)
    14,000 Turkey (e)
    750,489 Total
    760,000 Estimation

  15. matgasnier
    January 22nd, 2012 at 01:15 | #18


    Hi Nismo,
    I finally have found time to lok into your figures and update them with final or estimated 2011 full year data. I come to 582,000 units, which I will round up to 590,000 meaning the Tiida/Versa comes in at #12. See below for the detail:

    Tiida/Versa total sales (incompleted): 494.904 updated to 582,168, rounded up to 590,000

    US (11m) – 89.794 updated to 99,730
    Canada (11m) – 13.578 14,497
    Mexico (11m) – 51.142 59,977
    Argentina (11m) – 6.640 6,805
    Brasil (11m) – 15.401 19,293
    Equador (11m) – 1.071 1,150 (e)
    Venezuela (11m)- 1 1
    Panamá (8m) – 726 950 (e)
    Chile (7m) – 7.739 13,000 (e)
    Colombia (6m) – 3824 8,000 (e)
    Europe (10m/ 23 countries) – 914 1,200 (e)
    Russia (5m) – 8.062 23,000 (e)
    South Africa (11m) – 2.751 2,797
    Egipt (8m) – 4.463 239 (your data was the Sunny/Samsung SM3 not the Tiida)
    Japan (11m) – 25.252 27,421
    China (11m) – 239.890 (tiida+versa) 267,032
    Taiwan (11m) – 16.778 18,151
    Australia (9m) – 2.197 3,577
    India (11m) – 3.130 3,663
    Malasia (11m) -701 765
    GCC 10,920 (e – this is not the Sunny/Samsung SM3 but the Tiida)

  16. TheK
    January 6th, 2012 at 11:43 | #19

    The big question is how to count “pairs”, esp. the compacts. While several brands have two different mid-size cars, those have their exclusive regions and share the same name (Mazda 6, Honda Accord, VW Passat), so it’s logical to count them together. Subcompacts are mostly global cars (not sure about Hyundai), but often previous generations are still in production for some developing markets.

    With compact cars the situation is a bit more complicate: Taste for these cars are different around the globe, so car makers have different strategies to solve this: VW has the cheap sedan Jetta and the more expensive hatch Golf and sells both globally. Hyundai has the pair of Elantra and i30, with mostly exclusive markets (one big exception is China). Totally exclusive are Toyota Corolla/Auris and Kia Forte/Cee’d. Ford has only an expensive hatch (Focus), Chevy has cheap sedan and cheap hatch under the same nametag ‘Cruze’ (while the hatch is only sold in Europe). Buck/Opel use same nametag in China, but are exclusives (at least for now) elsewhere…

    The small difference between Hyundai Elantra and Toyota Corolla turn around, if you add Hyundai i30 and Toyota Auris (as the Hyundai sells far better). The two Volkswagens would be miles in the lead this way. And counting all the Opel Astra versions (sold as Opel, Buick, Vauxhaul and even Chevrolet) would take a month alone ;)

  17. NismoBoy
    January 4th, 2012 at 22:28 | #20


    Tiida/Versa total sales (incompleted): 494.904

    US (11m) – 89.794
    Canada (11m) – 13.578
    Mexico (11m) – 51.142
    Argentina (11m) – 6.640
    Brasil (11m) – 15.401
    Equador (11m) – 1.071
    Venezuela (11m)- 1
    Panamá (8m) – 726
    Chile (7m) – 7.739
    Colombia (6m) – 3824
    Europe (10m/ 23 countries) – 914
    Russia (5m) – 8.062
    South Africa (11m) – 2.751
    Egipt (8m) – 4.463
    Japan (11m) – 25.252
    China (11m) – 239.890 (tiida + versa)
    Taiwan (11m) – 16.778
    Australia (9m) – 2.197
    India (11m) – 3.130
    Malasia (11m) -701

    Please note, that i have no acess to Africa / Middle East and also ASAEN sales figures.

  18. NismoBoy
    January 3rd, 2012 at 23:35 | #21


    Matt i have some figures from Tiida/Versa worldwide until November. Later i´ll post it.

    • matgasnier
      January 4th, 2012 at 00:54 | #22

      That would be great NismoBoy thanks!

  19. Tuga
    January 3rd, 2012 at 05:28 | #23

    Hi Matt. Please let us know if you ever hear back from that ” journalist ” who compiled this list at Forbes will ya? ;)

    Both the Focus and Fiesta also have multiple generations on sale right now in South America and India. In fact, the only cars here who don’t have multi gens are the Cruze and the F series… and that last ones’s your data :D

    I’m sure the Corolla is number one though, so congratulations. And to Chevy too, that’s mighty impressive for the Cruze.

  20. NismoBoy
    January 3rd, 2012 at 00:10 | #24

    I think you forgot to include the Nissan Tiida/Versa into that list – Tiida/Versa sales in 2011 easily surpass the 500.000 units sold.

    • matgasnier
      January 3rd, 2012 at 11:59 | #25

      Good point NismoBoy – I’m going to need to look at various countries figures to estimate that number myself, give me some time I will do it shortly.

  21. anthony
    January 2nd, 2012 at 21:07 | #26

    I also remember that the Jetta 5 is still sold in volume in China as the Sagitar…

    Would have thought Mazda 2,3,or 6 would have made the list.

    Thanks for all your hard work Matt,I love it.

    Best regards,


    • matgasnier
      January 2nd, 2012 at 21:18 | #27

      Thanks for all your comments and your praise Anthony!

  22. Afshin
    January 2nd, 2012 at 20:52 | #28

    Pride in Iran is producing under Saipa brand not Kia brand so sales report cant be under Kia brand.

  23. Mauricio
    January 2nd, 2012 at 16:35 | #29

    Are Golf’s sales figures in Germany (it’s strongests market) given etirely to the Golf nameplate? let’s remember that those figures include Golf, Jetta and the familiar version of the car. If that’s the case the Golf should be even lower on the rank

    • matgasnier
      January 2nd, 2012 at 21:20 | #30

      Hi Mauricio,
      European figures for the Golf are for the Golf only, not including the Plus and Jetta like they do in Germany. However Forbes doesn’t detail their figures so there is no way for me to know whether Golf sales include the Golf Plus for example, sorry… I have asked the author of the article on Forbes for more info so will publish if/when I get any…

  24. ausrutherford
    January 2nd, 2012 at 15:39 | #31

    The Elantra and Corolla also pull that crap as well.

    The now 2 gen old Elantra and the last gen Corolla are still sold in China. That is so, even though they switched to newer generations 4+ years ago.

  25. Anthony
    January 2nd, 2012 at 13:25 | #32

    Jetta has become the best seller for VW,But also this is made up of Jetta 2 in China,Jetta 4/Bora in China and Mexico,and Jetta 6 everywhere else,with the Sportwagon sales added from the USA.

    Wonder where the Honda Accords are ?

    2 Diffirent models,the USA one,and European one,which is Acura TSX in USA,and others,and Honda Spirior in China.

    Thought that would have been on the list…

    • matgasnier
      January 2nd, 2012 at 13:31 | #33

      Very good point on the Jetta generations Anthony!
      Stupidly I was focused on the last generation only…
      I will amend my post accordingly.
      On the Accord, its main market is still the US by far and it sold 230,000 units there so would be hard for it to reach 550,000 worldwide…
      Thanks for the comment!

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