These are the best-selling car in every country, ever.
We’ve got our calculators out to look at the best selling cars in most major car market countries, going back to the dawn of the automotive age. Some are familiar, and sell to this day – but many have long since been lost to the mists of time. We’ll start with the largest sellers and work our way down:
USA: Ford F-Series, 1948-present – 30 million
You’ve got to hand it to the Ford F-Series: it does nothing by halves. As well as being the best-selling vehicle in the USA for decades, it’s also the biggest hitter in this list by a factor of more than two. Ford is justifiably proud of its pick-up range and a new one rolls off the production line every 52 seconds all year round. The F-Series line generates around $41 billion per year alone in revenue for Ford.
Truck sales in America are closely correlated to the housing and construction markets; since 1948, when the F-Series launched, the country’s population has increased from 147 million to 326 million – and they all need somewhere to live and work. F-Series vehicles sold in North America are built at factories in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Missouri.
Russia: Lada Riva, 1980-2015 – 15 million
The Lada Riva has a convoluted history that starts with the 1966 Fiat 124 and meanders through the VAZ-2101 before it became the Lada Riva in 1980. From here, there was no stopping the Lada as it went on to notch up 15 million sales over a 35-year life. Basic in many ways, it suited many Russian drivers looking for something cheap and easy to maintain, and which could also cope with the extremes of weather experienced in this vast nation.
The Riva was produced by AvtoVAZ, which is now majority owned by Renault-Nissan.
Japan: Toyota Corolla, 1966-present – 12.65 million
The Japanese can be notoriously fickle when it comes to new cars and many buyers are drawn to quirky cars. Yet it’s the simple Toyota Corolla that has outsold all others in the land of its designers. What helps hugely here is a production heritage stretching back to 1966 that means many of its rivals for short-term sales never get a look-in.
Brazil: Volkswagen Gol, 1980-present – 8 million
The Gol is locally produced in Brazil and has evolved to become ideally suited to this market. Offered in three- and five-door hatch shapes, you can also order one as a sedan, which is popular with south American buyers. Based on the previous generation VW Polo, the current Gol is offered with 1.0 and 1.6-litre engines.
The car was Brazil’s annual best seller between 1987 and 2014, and is produced in the state of São Paulo.
Germany: Volkswagen Golf, 1974-present – 7 million
Come on, what did you expect? This is Germany, after all, and the Volkswagen Golf. No other car encapsulates a national identity in quite the same way, so it’s obvious the German nation would open its hearts and wallets to the Golf. Even so, the 7 million and counting sold in its homeland is still only a small proportion of the 34 million Golfs sold worldwide so far.
Czech Republic: Skoda Octavia, 1996-present – 6.4 million
The patriotic Czechs have elevated the Octavia to a very solid number one in the country’s overall sales rankings with 6.4 million finding happy homes since the model’s launch in 1996. In the intervening years, the Octavia has increased its sales and market share in its own back yard despite growing sales of immediate rivals and others in the blossoming Czech economy.
United Kingdom: Ford Fiesta, 1974-present – 4.5 million
British drivers have become used to the Fiesta topping the country’s sales charts in recent years, but it used to be larger Blue Oval models that took that honour. So only in 2014 did the Fiesta steal the UK’s best-selling car overall title from the Escort (1968-1998), which itself took the honour from the original Mini, sold between 1959 and 2000.
Produced at least in part in Britain until 2002, today nearly all Fiestas sold in Europe are made in Cologne, Germany.
Canada: Ford F-Series, 1948-present – 4.2 million
While there may be many distinguishing features between Canadians and their US neighbours, they both share a love of the Ford F-Series. It’s been the best-selling vehicle in Canada for decades thanks to being ideally suited to the tough terrain that covers much of the country. It’s also cheaper than many saloons and available in a range of body styles and engine sizes.
Italy: Fiat Uno, 1983-1994 – 4 million
Fiat turned out more than 6 million Unos during the car’s production lifetime and around two-thirds were destined for domestic consumption. As a new take on the theme of the 500 and 126 as affordable, compact transport, the Uno was nigh-on perfect. The only real surprise is it managed this sales achievement in a relatively short 11-year span.
India: Hindustan Ambassador, 1958-2014 – 4 million
When the Morris Oxford has served its purpose in Britain, it found a whole new lease of life in India as the Hindustan Ambassador from 1958. It served dutifully as transport for the middle classes and as a ubiquitous taxi right up until production ended in 2014.
There are still hundreds of thousands on Indian roads thanks to its simple design and tough mechanicals.
Ukraine: ZAZ Zaporozhets, 1960-1994 – 3.4 million
It’s little wonder the Zaporozhets is Ukraine’s biggest selling car when you consider the various versions that make up this model lineage. It all kicked off in 1960 with a city car powered by an air-cooled, rear-mounted engine. It’s this design of motor that ties the various models together and results in an impressive production run.
Poland: Polski Fiat/FSO 126p, 1973-2000 – 3.3 million
The 126p is not the only former Fiat design to have ducked behind the Iron Curtain to make another life for itself, but it’s the one that found greatest favour in Poland. Basic design and decent packaging made it ideal during the country’s Communist years, but its popularity meant production lasted a decade after democracy took hold.
Polski Fiat became FSO in 1983; the company was gradually absorbed into Fiat over the next decade. Today, the factory at Tychy is the only European factory producing the Fiat 500 - that quintessentially Italian car. The factory also produces the Ford Ka and the Lancia Ypsilon.
Australia: Ford Falcon, 1960-2016 – 3 million+
The legendary Ford Falcon built started life being built in Melbourne as an Aussie-fied version of the American model of the same name. The key difference was right-hand drive, but by 1970 when Ford US ceased its production, the Australian model gained more local design input. The result is a car buyers took to heart, particularly when it was fitted with powerful V8s and entered domestic saloon racing.
After seven generations, however, the Falcon line came to an end in 2016 due to the rising costs of production. Then General Motors closed its last Australian car factory in 2017, bringing to an end volume car production in the country.
France: Renault Clio, 1990-present – 3 million
Renault has turned out more than 14 million Clios during the supermini’s lifespan to date and almost a quarter of those have been for domestic consumption. While the French may be biased towards their homegrown vehicles, there’s no denying the Clio is every bit as good a choice today as it was when it launched way back in 1990.
China: Volkswagen Santana, 1982-present – 3 million
The Volkswagen Santana holds the number one sales spot in China partly due to its long production life there. On sale since 1982 and still going strong, the other key to its success is local production and it’s been assembled in China since 1982 by the company we now know as SAIC. Ever popular as a taxi, you can also buy the latest Jetta-based model in saloon or Gran Santana hatch body styles.
Mexico: Volkswagen Beetle, 1948-2003 – 1.7 million
The first officially imported Beetle to Mexico touched tarmac in 1954 and the car went on to enjoy massive popularity thanks to its easy-to-maintain nature. Mexicans loved it so much that VW decided to build the Beetle in Puebla from 1967 and production only ended in 2003 when declining sales and tighter emissions controls made it uneconomic to carry on with.
Malaysia: Perodua Myvi, 2005-present – 1.5 million
The Perodua Myvi may have failed to garner much attention in the wider world, but in its home market of Malaysia this little car is big news. A year after it was introduced in 2005, it topped the sales charts and stayed there for eight years on the trot, and it’s never been far away from there in subsequent years.
South Africa: Toyota Corolla, 1966-present – 1.1 million
Toyota’s Hilux often tops the yearly sales charts in South Africa, but the Corolla is the journeyman machine that’s been there, done it and got the overall number one slot as a result. Most are sold in plain white to deal with the hot sun, while the Corolla’s low running costs and reliability are what endears it to so many South African drivers.
The car is produced in Durban, along with the Hilux and certain other Toyotas.
Spain: SEAT Ibiza, 1984-present – 1.1 million
The Ibiza is built in Spain by a Spanish company and loved by the country’s car buyers more than any other model. It started life as a car from the independent SEAT company, but in 1990 Volkswagen took control, which had a rounded sense to it as the first Ibiza was a reworked design of a possible Golf replacement that was rejected by the Germans. From then on, the Ibiza has gone from strength to strength.
Sweden: Volvo 200 Series, 1974-1993 – 1 million
The 200 was the car that cemented Volvo’s reputation for safety and solidity, which worked a treat to secure almost 3 million sales globally for this model. A third of those found homes in Sweden itself during a 19-year life and the 200 now has a cult following among a new, younger generation of Swedish drivers who love its sharp-edged style.
Romania: Dacia 1300, 1969-2004 – 1 million
If the Dacia 1300 looks rather familiar to Western European eyes it’s because this Romanian idol began life as the Renault 12. Unlike some other Soviet era cars that were Western European cast-offs, the Dacia was launched at the same time in 1969 as the French version. The difference is La Regie ceased production in 1980 while Dacia carried on until 2004, or 2006 if you wanted the pick-up version.
Renault acquired Dacia in 1999.
Austria: Volkswagen Golf, 1974-present – 900,000
Given its proximity to and close ties with Germany, it’s no surprise to find the Volkswagen Golf is the long-standing favourite of Austrian car buyers. Since 1974, they have lapped up more than 900,000 and the hatch still reigns supreme in the sales charts. This love of the Golf also manifests itself in the world’s largest gathering for the model in Worthersee every year where VW takes the chance to show off several concepts to the Golf faithful.
Belgium: Volkswagen Golf, 1974-present – 572,000
The Belgians have a longstanding association with the Volkswagen Golf that runs deeper than merely buying more of them than any other model of car. From 1980, VW built the Golf Mk1 at the Vorst plant that was already turning out the Passat. Successive generations of Golf were made there up to the Mk5 and the factory now builds the Audi A1; it will also soon start producing the new Audi all-electric e-tron SUV.
Turkey: Renault Symbol, 1999-present – 330,000
The Symbol started life as a reworked version of the second generation Renault Clio but with a boot to suit local tastes. When the third generation arrived in 2012, such was its popularity in Turkey that Renault unveiled the car at the Istanbul Motor Show that year. It’s now the country’s best ever selling car and is offered with 1.2-litre petrol or 1.5-litre turbodiesel engines.
It’s produced in Bursa, near Istanbul.
Qatar: Toyota Land Cruiser, 1951-present – 220,000
Toyota rules the sales in Qatar and the lead can change from year to year between its various models, but it’s the Land Cruiser that comes out on top here. Its longevity seals the deal as it was there in the early days of the oil boom when the Land Cruiser was a far more utilitarian vehicle and it’s still there as a luxury 4x4 able to deal with city and desert with equal aplomb.
Ireland: Ford Focus, 1998-present – 150,000
The Ford Fiesta might hold sway just over the border in the UK, but the Irish have a love of the larger Focus that makes it the country’s biggest seller. Since launch in 1998, the Focus has sold steadily and is helped by engines that lessen the blow of vehicle taxes that can be swingeing.
Kuwait: Toyota Prado, 1990-present – 135,000
When you have a country defined by huge swathes of desert and petrol that’s cheaper than shoe leather, the inevitable outcome is the Toyota Prado wins the sales battle. Mixing masses of comfort with superb off-road ability, as well the reliability not to leave you stranded in the desert, the Prado regularly features in the top five new car sales lists year after year to see off lesser rivals.
Portugal: Renault Clio, 1990-present – 130,000
Spain might be closer, but it’s France that provides Portugal with its favourite motoring son in the shape of the Renault Clio. A good deal of sales are driven by the large hire car market thanks to Portugal’s popularity as a holiday destination, but the locals love it too and you can still see plenty of earlier models being used daily thanks to the temperate climate that staves off rust.
Finland: Skoda Octavia, 1996-present – 105,000
Finland may be well known for its growing love of electric cars and their considerable share of new car sales, but it’s the Skoda Octavia that takes the top step of the podium here. It continues to sell steadily to canny Finnish buyers and it’s that consistency over more than two decades that has assured it of its place in this list.
Hungary: Skoda Octavia, 1996-present – 35,000
It’s a measure of how small the new car market is in Hungary that Skoda’s Octavia tops the country’s overall sales chart with 35,000 sales up to the end of 2017. It takes a big slice of the market thanks to its affordable price and solid build that can cope with some less than perfectly surfaced roads.