The world's most popular cars determined

The world
# 29 December 2012 11:03 (UTC +04:00)

Developed in Europe and manufactured in five countries — the U.S., China, Germany, Russia and Thailand — the Focus is now ubiquitous in more than 120 markets worldwide. This year, global sales will reach approximately one million units, according to market research firm LMC Automotive.

The Corolla’s no slouch, either. LMC forecasts sales of approximately 966,000 Corollas in 2012, one reason Toyota Motor is poised to recapture the title of world’s biggest automaker this year after ceding leadership to General Motors in 2011. GM is now vying with Volkswagen for second place.

It’s been a record year for the auto industry, with global sales expected to top 80 million cars and trucks. Although European sales have been weak and China has slowed a bit, sales in the U.S. market have been robust, fed by pent-up demand. Analysts are forecasting U.S. sales of about 14.5 million units.

When it comes to crowning the best-selling cars, though, China, now the world’s largest automotive market, has the most clout. And in 2012, Ford and Toyota saw very different outcomes there. Ford has been investing heavily in China, and the Focus is one of 15 new models being introduced there over the next few years. Meanwhile, a long-simmering territorial dispute between Japan and China sparked a boycott of Japanese cars by Chinese consumers in the latter half of the year. As a result, Toyota’s sales in China fell about 25 percent below expectations.

All but one of the 10 most popular cars in the world are small, fuel-efficient compacts, which are popular in Europe, Asia and developing countries where affordability is an issue. The exception is the mid-sized Toyota Camry sedan, which is America’s most popular car.

The Volkswagen Jetta, also called the Vento or Bora in some markets, is Volkswagen’s top-selling vehicle, and the third most popular car in the world, thanks to its acceptance in the U.S. and China, two markets that are key to VW’s plan to be the global sales leader by 2018.

The Hyundai Elantra, sold as the Avante in its home market of Korea, was fourth, and the Ford Fiesta, another of Ford’s global models, ranked fifth.

Rounding out the Top 10 were the Volkswagen Golf, the Camry, the Volkswagen Polo (not sold in the U.S.), the Chevrolet Cruze and the Honda Civic.

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