Each country has different preferences for goods, and vehicles are no different.
Consumers in a dense country might prefer smaller cars, while countries with wide expanses (and parking spots) open the way for larger trucks. Likewise, rugged terrain might call for vehicles that can adapt and scale quickly.
And, as Visual Capitalists’ Omri Wallach notes, it’s also a question of which manufacturer invested in the country. As the world’s largest automakers have raced to attract consumers in every corner of the globe, they built factories, renamed models, and even built specific cars to fit the tastes of individual countries.
This infographic from Budget Direct Car Insurance highlights the best-selling vehicles in the world, using 2019 year-end sales data.
What is the Most Popular Vehicle in Each Country?
Though the map might vary across the board, one thing is certain: Toyota’s dominance.
The Japanese automaker—which was also the most valuable automaker in the world for many years before being overtaken by Tesla—had the best-selling vehicle in 41 countries of the 104 countries tallied.
It also had the world’s best-selling vehicle in 2019, the Toyota Corolla, though the sedan only took the top spot itself in five countries.
As the best-seller in 16 countries, the Toyota Hilux truck (also known as the Toyota Pickup in North America) was the top vehicle in the most countries. It has a noticeably strong market share in the Southern Hemisphere, including in Argentina, South Africa, and Australia.
The other consistent factor was the strength of local manufacturers. Many countries with large automakers had local models as the best-selling vehicles, especially in Europe.
Cars are the Best-Selling Vehicles in the World
So what do car consumers currently prefer? Currently, cars have a slight edge over trucks as the best-selling vehicles in the world.
Of the 104 countries with sales tallied for the study, smaller cars often classified as “passenger vehicles” (including sedans, hatchbacks, and subcompacts) made up the majority of best-sellers, with 57 of the best-selling vehicles by country.
Meanwhile, “light trucks” or “light commercial vehicles,” which include trucks, SUVs, and vans, were best-sellers in 47 countries.
Best-Selling Vehicles by Type
But changing car consumption preferences are already making their mark. The electric vehicle (EV) Tesla Model 3 was already the best-selling vehicle in both the Netherlands and Norway, and other countries like China are increasing incentives for consumers to purchase EVs.
That’s not even factoring in the slowdown of travel during the COVID pandemic, more workers going remote, and the semiconductor strain on automakers. A truly post-COVID world will likely transform the map even further.