This is the world’s best-selling car by segment in 2021

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I have only been able to compile data for the full year of 2021, even though we have entered the second quarter. It took me a lot of time to collect worldwide information, and then classify each model according to its segment. The research includes data for 106 markets from five continents that accounted for more than 99% of the world’s total volume last year. This is the best selling model.

Tesla Model 3 Hits Overall Top 10

Elon Musk anticipates it: Teslas will be the most popular cars in the near future. Well, the Model 3 may not be the world’s best-selling car in 2021, but it certainly does a brilliant job breaking into the exclusive top 10. According to the figures, this electric sedan takes the 9th place in the ranking thanks to its strong growth. from 40% vs 2020 to 508,000 units. It’s also the first time a fully electric car has hit sales volume so far.

Motor1 Lists the World's Best Selling Cars By Segment


The Toyota RAV4, aka Wildlander in China, made history by becoming the first SUV to lead the global rankings. The brand sold more than 1.13 million units, up 6%. It clearly outperformed its closest rival, the Honda CR-V, up 3% to 903,000 units. Their rivals from Nissan, the X-Trail or Rogue, only increased their volume by 0.5% due to the change of generation model. However, it was able to outperform the Mazda CX-5, Haval H6, Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace and Ford Escape/Kuga.

Among the smallest SUVs, the Honda HR-V is by far the star. Its volume increased 20% thanks to its strong position in China, Latin America, Japan and Southeast Asia. Its closest rival is the Volkswagen T-Cross, but with half of Honda’s sales. Then came the Hyundai Creta, Kia Seltos and Volkswagen T-Roc.

Motor1 Lists the World's Best Selling Cars By Segment

The Toyota Highlander was the most popular mid/large SUV with 443,000 units, up 31%. It is followed by the Tesla Model Y, the 19th best-selling vehicle in the overall ranking. Then there’s the BMW X3, Ford Explorer, Jeep Wrangler, Mercedes GLC, Audi Q5 and Hyundai Santa Fe.

small car

It will be interesting to see how the majority of drivers tend to prefer the bigger cars. Last year’s most popular small car took 20th place, and that was the Chinese car, the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV. It is the best-selling electric vehicle in China. The second is the hatchback Volkswagen Polo, Suzuki Swift, Toyota Yaris Europe, and the Saipa Arrive, the Iranian car for that market.

Motor1 Lists the World's Best Selling Cars By Segment

compact car

They were mostly compact sedans, such as the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Sentra and Honda Civic, and were not very popular in North America and China. The hatchback is the most popular in Europe, so that’s why the Volkswagen Golf has dropped so much in the rankings. In fact, the Golf is the best-selling hatch in the world, but takes 49th place with 268,000 units

Premium and luxury cars

The BMW 3-Series sedan took first place with 329,000 units, up a healthy 12% thanks to strong demand in China, United States-Canada and Japan-Korea. Followed by his brother, the 5-Series sedan with 277,000 units, and still growing even though he is old. Its rival, the Mercedes E-Class sedan ranks third best-selling premium car with 231,000 units. Then came the Mercedes C-Class. Among the luxury segment, the Mercedes S-Class leads so far with 83,000 units vs. 46,000 units of the BMW 7 Series.

Motor1 Lists the World's Best Selling Cars By Segment

Pickup Truck

Although the Ford F-150 retained the crown, it lost ground and was threatened by the Toyota Hilux, up 22%. Unlike Ford, which sells most of its units in North America, Toyota is very popular around the world, especially in emerging markets. The Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500 also lost ground and dropped out of the top 10. Ford Ranger, Isuzu D Max and Toyota Tacoma posted positive movements compared to 2020.

Sport car

The Ford Mustang is again the world’s best-selling sports car but lost 15% of sales compared to 2020, allowing the Dodge Challenger to challenge it. The Porsche 911 came in third, up 13%. Demand for the Chevrolet Corvette jumped 53%, leaving the tiny Mazda MX-5 in fifth.

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is JATO dynamics Automotive Industry Specialist.


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