* See The cars of Malta in 50 pictures here *
Being one of the smallest new car markets in Europe doesn’t prevent Malta from being secretive. My contact at the ACIM – the Association of Cars Importers in Malta – is at first not very keen to share any sales detail about his market: “The information gathered locally between the car importers is only shared by them.” Sometimes the only way is to see for yourself and ask for forgiveness later. So I did fly to Malta and stayed three days, driving around every nook and cranny of the two main islands that compose the country: Malta and Gozo.
Peugeot 108 in Valletta.
There are two main elements that dictate the order of new car sales in Malta. Firstly, the tiny size of the country means there is absolutely no need for large sedans, MPVs or SUVs to travel for hours. You can drive around the main island of Malta in less than that. Therefore, mini and supermini cars are by far the most popular in Malta. Secondly, tourism is the third biggest source of revenue in Malta after freight trans-shipment and electronics and textile manufacturing. This means a large proportions of the newer cars in circulation in Malta are in fact rentals.
The Kia Picanto is among the top sellers in Malta this year.
Toyota is confirmed as the most popular brand in Malta so far this year and the only carmaker able to place two nameplates within the Top 5 as we’ll see further down. Kia comes in at an impressive 2nd place mainly due to the success of the Picanto but also the new generation Sportage, knocking its sister company Hyundai down to 4th place. Following a long heritage of purchase preference, Peugeot and Citroen both appear among the five most popular brands in Malta this year, in contrast with Renault which has traditionally been viewed as more expensive and less-value for money.
Model-wise, observation on the roads of Malta has prompted me to estimate the Toyota Aygo as the overall best-seller in the country this year, which would mean the Yaris reign was interrupted not so long ago. The Aygo appears to attract both private local buyers and rental car companies, the perfect mix for a pole position. This prediction was 100% confirmed by ACIM so the Aygo is the official Maltese best-seller for 2016, distancing its big sister the Yaris – less favoured by rental car companies but the eternal favourite of local buyers – and allowing Toyota a fantastic 1-2 in Malta.
Hyundai i10 in Valletta
In third position we find the Kia Picanto, also very popular as a rental car, followed by the Peugeot 108. The 108 follows a long line of success for the smallest Peugeot in the lineup, starting with the 205 and continuing to the 106 and 107. If the latter nameplates seem to have been favoured mainly by the local population, the 108 seems to be the new lover of car rental companies: seeing 3 or 4 parked next to each other at a tourist attraction is not a rare sight. The Hyundai i10 rounds up the Top 5, while the Citroen C1 and C4 Cactus shouldn’t be far off.