Best-Selling Cars in the World

There are several things that make or break a car’s popularity: its value, its safety, its reliability, and its price. Some cars are popular because they meet basic needs of getting people from point A to point B—like a good bed, they maintain their market domination not because they are particularly noticeable, but because they aren’t particularly noticeable. Others historically have been popular because they were the first of their kind, met a unique need, or tapped into the power of creative ideas.

Check out some of the best-selling cars in the world, both historically and in the present-day.

Best-Selling Car Ever: Toyota Corolla

Toyota Corolla Best Selling Car
Getty Images/Bob Levey / Stringer

Are you surprised that this plain old car is the best-selling car ever? You should not be: the sedan is dependable, reliable and affordable, with a price tag of under $20,000 for many models. It’s been produced since 1966 and has sold over 40 million units worldwide, far surpassing any competition in terms of the number of units sold. 

Second Best-Selling Car Ever: Volkswagen Beetle

Volkswagon Beetle
Getty Images/Car Culture, Inc.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have probably played the punch buggy game: whenever you saw a Volkswagen Beetle as a kid, you might have punched your friend (or sibling)’s arm and yelled out “Slug bug!” or “Punch buggy!” Along with delighting generations of children since the 1960s, this classic car, produced from 1938 until 2003, was incredibly popular: 21.5 million units were sold during its six-decade reign. Many models came with a flower holder built-in, possibly a nod to its prevalence during the flower power era.

Third Best-Selling Car Ever: Ford Model T

Ford Model T
Getty Images/falun

Sometimes, first really is most fabulous. First produced over 100 years ago in 1908, the Ford Model T is the third best-selling vehicle of all time. 16.5 million Ford Model Ts were sold, and by 1913, this car controlled 90 percent of the global automobile market. By the end of its run in 1927, Model Ts were painted shiny black and shiny black only, purportedly at the direction of Mr. Ford himself. But many earlier models were painted gray, blue, green or even red. While they will cost you much more than this amount now, the first touring model cost you $850—or about $23,688 in today’s dollars.

Most Popular in the United States: Ford F-Series

Ford F-Series
Getty Images/DarthArt

Probably more than any other country, America loves our trucks. They are great for hauling timber, rumbling through rural areas and suburbia alike, and for making men feel manlier than they have ever felt before—mud flaps optional. Ford’s F Series of trucks have been the best-selling vehicles in the United States for awhile, and no matter the reason, the truck’s dominance is likely here to stay; the series’ sales were up 8.4 percent last year. 

Second Most Popular in the United States: Chevy Silverado

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Again with the trucks? Yeah, again with the trucks! This vehicle can haul more than its weight while delivering up to 420 horsepower. While this vehicle might not sell as well as Ford’s F Series, it can certainly hold its own on the market. 

Most Popular in Europe: 2017 Volkswagen Golf

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If you have watched British television, you are probably familiar with the endearingly simple Volkswagen Golf. The sedans were originally typically boxy, but models since the mid-1990s have embraced their curves. In 1992, this vehicle won the European Car of the Year award.

Most Popular in China: 2017 Wuling Hongguang

Wikimedia Commons, Navigator84

The Wuling Hongguang is a long, boxy, nondescript multipurpose vehicle—and the most popular car in China. The vehicle comfortably fits 7 and is produced, by GM, in many international markets under different names.

Most Popular With Thieves: Honda Accord and Honda Civic

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The things that make the Honda Accord and Honda Civic so popular with families and drivers around the world also make them the most popular to thieves: they are reliable, dependable, get great gas mileage and do not stand out on the road (or in any place, really). Nearly 50,000 of each of these vehicles is stolen each year in the United States, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau. Unlike a flashy car, perhaps drivers are less careless with their beloved Hondas—the NICB says that most of these thefts could be prevented if the drivers simply locked their car doors.

Article Sources

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  12. Chevrolet Pressroom. "Silverado’s 6.2L V-8 Named to Wards 10 Best Engines List." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  13. GM Authority. "Chevrolet Silverado Sales Jump 27 Percent To Overtake Ram In Q1 2020." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  14. AAA Northeast. "The Most Popular Cars of All Time." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  15. European Car of the Year. "Car of the Year 1992." Accessed May 20, 2020.

  16. Goodwood Road & Racing. "Axon's Automotive Anorak: China's Best‑Selling Cars." Accessed May 20, 2020.

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