If your obsession with cars began at a young age, you’re probably familiar with the Ford Model T. The car that was first introduced in 1908 was perhaps the first to be classified as the bestselling vehicle in the early days of the automobile. More than 15,000,000 Model Ts were built and sold in its lifetime and in May of 1927, a ceremony was held to honour the end of its production run. Decades later, it was the ‘People’s Car’ from Germany that generated a similar impact, biting off a giant piece of the sales pie with the Volkswagen Beetle. The brainchild of Adolf Hitler and Ferdinand Porsche, which was conceived to mobilise a nation had moved millions the world over, eventually hitting the 23-million-unit mark. Then came the 90s, and with that, it was the Toyota Corolla that became ‘Mr. Popular’. As per one of Toyota’s websites, some 44.1 million Corollas have found homes worldwide. But we think the current number may be closer to 50 million… and counting.

But you’re probably thinking these are stats from days long gone and perhaps not relevant to our times. So, to pique your interest in what’s hot in the market, we have taken a log of the most popular vehicles for 2022 and that too by countries.

As we know, 2022 has been a challenging year, especially coming off the tail end of the Covid phase. Add to that the problems with production, logistics, inflation, the Ukraine-Russia war, and other political tensions, and things haven’t been as rosy as the overly optimistic sales projections would suggest. But the market is both growing and falling… and it has a lot to do with geography. Let’s take a closer look at the big players of 2022.

People’s Republic of China

The world's largest automotive market continues to prove its worth in terms of commerce despite many global issues. As per sources, about 27 million units found owners, a 2 per cent bump compared to 2021, which is a number that has also trumped pre-Covid figures. Interestingly, this figure makes the Chinese market almost twice that of the United States. And a lot of that push comes courtesy of electric vehicles, which are highly incentivised by the government. EVs accounted for about 20 per cent of overall sales, with the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV taking third place on the podium after BYD Song Plus, which totaled nearly 460k units, and Nissan Sylphy at around 447k units.


The American markets didn’t fare as well, selling a little under 14 million units, some 8 per cent down from 2021 — an all-time low, if 2012 was considered the start of the fiscal decade. And although Tesla continued to climb the board in the EV segment, it was business as usual across the Atlantic, with full-size trucks taking all three spots at the top. The Ford F-series led the way with about 654k units under its belt, followed by the Chevrolet Silverado at a little over 523k units and Ram pickups taking 2nd runner-up with about 469k units.

Europe (& UK)

Apparently, Germany, UK, France, Italy and Spain contributed to three-fourths of the total sales figure for the region. But much like the US, European buyers showed some disinterest in the car market. For the year 2022, sales totaled 9-plus million units, a deviance of 6 per cent from the earlier year. But more interestingly, it was a dip of about 30 per cent from 2019. Patriotism and familiarity shone though in Germany, with Volkswagen taking all three spots on the podium and the Golf proving its popularity once again, with about 85k units sold.

Much like Germany, local manufacturers retained preference in France, with Group Renault reigning supreme overall but it was the Peugeot 208 that took top honours, pocketing cheques from 89k buyers.

Again, familiarity played a big role in Italy with the FIAT Panda (105k-plus units), Lancia Ypsilon (41k units), and FIAT 500 (34k units) topping the sales chart. While the Spanish market was more welcoming of foreign brands with the Korean manufacturer Hyundai taking gold with about 22k Tucsons sold. And across the channel, in the island nation of Britain, it was the Tesla Model Y that had an impressive showing, with some 36k units delivered to customers. And that too without a single automotive ad — the genius of Elon is evident. But it was the Nissan Qashqai that played favourites with over 42k units sold.

Overall, all European nations observed double-digit drops between the years 2019 and 2022.

India, Indonesia, Turkey and Australia

Meanwhile, markets in the most populous nation in the world, India, the Southeastern nation of Indonesia, the cusp of continents i.e. Turkey, and the island nation of Australia showed automakers that there is money to be made. Sales figures for 2022 for each of these countries not only displaced those of 2021 but of 2020 as well.

In India, an all-time record of 4.37 million units was sold, making it the world’s third-largest vehicle market overall, beating the land of the rising sun, Japan, for the first time. And expectedly, Maruti and hatchbacks placed first, as a brand and segment, respectively. The Maruti Wagon R alone sold over 217k units, while its cousins Baleno (186k) and Swift (177k units) took second and third place. Not a surprise considering they are affordable vehicles and workshops that can service them can be found in just about every corner of this vast nation.

In Indonesia, the market is now nearly 1 million units large. And the 2022 volumes gained an appreciable 17 per cent hike compared to 2021 and a massive 95 per cent leap over 2020’s figures. Daihatsu Grand Max won the number game at 65k units sold and the Honda Brio and Toyota Avanza took runner-up prizes, with only a slight differential in numbers. Even the locally manufactured EV Wuling Air gained some interest from the public.

As for down under, four-wheel drive/all-wheel drive vehicles went places where regular cars fear to tread. In first place was the Toyota Hilux pickup truck, with a total of 65k units sold, while the Ford Ranger (48k units) and the Toyota RAV4 (35k units) made a significant impact in the market as well.

The takeaway

While it may look like people are reluctant to purchase vehicles, only a deeper dive into the subject will reveal the truth about the automotive market. For example, it’s not just that people are tightly holding onto their purses, it’s also the lack of availability of new vehicles. And the fact that the used car market has never been as it is.

Also, the East is rising in terms of sheer numbers and a lot involves the economic resilience of China and India, while the US and Europe are still struggling on their path to recovery, at least in terms of car sales.

As for the kind of vehicles people are gravitating towards, it seems sedans are gradually being phased out by both manufacturers and customers, with crossovers and SUVs being their chosen replacements. And EVs are gaining a lot of traction in every segment of the automotive market. Speaking of which, who would have thought that we would see a battery-operated Rolls-Royce? Yet here we are with the USD 400,000 Spectre.

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