UPDATE: An earlier version of this story incorrectly indicated that Mexico was part of South America. We removed this inaccuracy from the story.

As a regular reader of Motor1.com, you probably know that we are passionate about statistics. As they say, numbers speak louder than words. So in this column called Motor1 Numbers, we coordinated with the 12 editorial offices in our network around the globe to take a look at the best-selling cars country-by-country for 2021.

The rankings confirm recent trends and highlight the differences in consumer preferences around the world. For example, while North Americans continue to go crazy for SUVs and pickups, European drivers still prefer smaller cars, such as sedans and compact crossovers. Australia, Argentina, and Brazil all love mid-size trucks, while in populous countries like Indonesia, there is a clear preference for MPVs.

As is well known, the chip crisis, along with the continued uncertainty provided by the pandemic, had a negative effect on car demand last year. Each nation's markets, however, changed little in terms of consumer preference for car type.

North America's Obvious Choices

Best-selling Vehicles In The United States

The Ford F-Series continued to dominate the market in the United States with 726,004 units sold in 2021 (the total includes the F-150, F-250, F-350, and F-450 models). Nearly five out of every 100 light vehicles sold in the US in 2021 were a Ford F-Series. The second and third place winners were the Ram family of pickups and the Chevrolet Silverado, respectively. Their combined market share was 11.9 percent in 2021, the fourth largest since 1980. The Ford F-Series was also the best-selling vehicle in Canada with 111,332 units.

South America: Also Passionate About Pickups

Best-Selling Vehicles In Brazil

South America likes its trucks, too – albeit a bit smaller. Brazil, the largest automotive market in Latin America, saw the Fiat Strada as the leader with 109,107 units in 2021, or 5.5 percent of the total market.

This was the best result ever for this small pickup since its launch in 1996. The Fiat Strada has become a go-to for both fun and work among middle-class consumers looking for an efficient and capable vehicle.

Behind the Strada is two city cars. The Hyundai HB20 hatchback and the Fiat Argo came in second and third place, respectively.

Best-selling Vehicles In Argentina

The Fiat Cronos sedan was the best-selling vehicle in Argentina. This small, locally built four-door inspires consumer confidence due to its price, appearance, and wide availability at dealers.

The Toyota Hilux was the market leader in Argentina for the last three years, but it came in second in 2021. Another truck, the Volkswagen Amarok, took third place.

Hatchbacks Are Still Popular In Europe

Best-selling Vehicles In Germany

The situation in Europe is interesting. The Volkswagen Golf was the most popular new car in Germany, but as JATO Dynamics noted, it has lost a lot of share over the past three years. The model's domestic registrations now count for 3.5 percent of the total market, which is the lowest result since 1980.

The Golf's biggest challengers in Germany came from other Volkswagen products. The T-Roc and Tiguan were the second and third best-selling vehicles there, respectively.

Best-Selling Vehicles In France

In France, Europe's second-largest automotive market, the Peugeot 208 beat the Renault Clio. This was the first time since 2004 that Peugeot's small, B-segment hatchback sold more than the Renault competitor.

Neither of these French hatchbacks, though, expected the strong growth of the third-place Dacia Sandero, which was up 44 percent over 2020. 

Big Changes In The UK

Best-Selling Vehicles In The UK

The United Kingdom saw a transformation in 2021. For the first time since 2009, the Ford Fiesta did not take first place. Instead, the Vauxhall Corsa took the top spot for the first time since its introduction. The Corsa managed to get more customers than the Fiesta because the Ford was negatively affected by the growing popularity of the Puma.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3 occupied the second position, which was its best result among the 10 largest automotive markets in the world. In third place, there was the Mini three- and five-door Hardtop.

Italy Likes Little Hatchbacks

Best-Selling Vehicles In Italy

Unlike the UK, the top three cars in Italy hardly changed in 2021. The Fiat Panda dominated the country's sales by moving 112,298 units, or a market share of 7.6 percent. Its volume was up 1.2 percent over 2020 but was down 18.8 percent over 2019.

The Fiat 500 and Lancia Ypsilon were second and third, respectively. Together, they accounted for 13.8 percent of total new car sales in Italy.

Crossover Dominance In Spain

Best-Selling Vehicles In Spain

The top three in Spain consisted of two crossovers, the Seat Arona and the Hyundai Tucson, and one sedan, the Dacia Sandero. This was the Arona's first time in the lead since its introduction in 2017.

Hyundai has reason to celebrate the strong performance in Spain, though. The Tucson just entered its fourth generation, and it beat other popular competitors in the segment like the Nissan Qashqai (14,626 units ), the Volkswagen Tiguan (7,990), and the Peugeot 3008 (16,831).

What About Hungary And Turkey?

Best-Selling Vehicles In Hungary

Suzuki dominates the Hungarian market with an almost 15 percent share. The Vitara was the top seller, and the S-Cross was second place. In fact, the Vitara has been the country's best-seller since 2016. 

The Fiat 500 was third, and this was the best result for the Italian city car since its introduction in this market.

Best-Selling Vehicles In Turkey

The sales leaders in Turkey were more or less the same as in previous years. For example, the Fiat Egea was at the top, and this model has led this country's deliveries since 2016. The Toyota Corolla sedan and Renault Clio HB were second and third, respectively.

Russia Loves Lada; Indonesia Opts For MPVs

Best-Selling Vehicles In Russia

Vehicles from Lada dominate in Russia. The Vesta came out on top with nearly 113,700 deliveries, which was up 6 percent from 2020. The Granta was in second place but saw its volume fall 12 percent. The Kia Rio was third.

Best-Selling Vehicles In Indonesia

Indonesia is the second-largest auto market in Southeast Asia after Thailand. MPVs are 45 percent of the country's new vehicle sales. In 2021, the Toyota Avanza was in the lead. The Mitsubishi Xpander was second, and the commercial-focused Suzuki Carry was third.

Best-Selling Cars In Each Country In 2021

  • Argentina: Fiat Cronos: 34,435
  • Brasil: Fiat Strada: 109,107
  • France: Peugeot 208: 88,037
  • Germany: Volkswagen Golf: 91,621
  • Indonesia: Toyota Avanza: 66,109
  • Italy: Fiat Panda: 112,298
  • United Kingdom: Vauxhall Corsa: 40,914
  • Russia: Lada Vesta: 113,698
  • Spain: Seat Arona: 21,946
  • United States: Ford F-Series: 726,004
  • Turkey: Fiat Egea: 49,698
  • Hungaria: Suzuki Vitara: 8,349

Total Car Sales In Each Country In 2021

  • Argentina: 381,777
  • Brasil: 1,974,431
  • France: 1,658,453
  • Germany: 2,622,132
  • Indonesia: 887,202
  • Italy: 1,457,952
  • United Kingdom: 1,647,181
  • Russia: 1,666,780
  • Spain: 859,477
  • United States: 15,060,287
  • Turkey: 737,350
  • Hungaria: 121,986
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