These are the world’s 25 best-selling cars - and the winner is electric!

The Tesla Model Y was the world’s best-selling vehicle in 2023. Picture: Supplied.

The Tesla Model Y was the world’s best-selling vehicle in 2023. Picture: Supplied.

Published Jun 18, 2024


Compiling a list of the world’s top selling vehicles is no easy task, but the studious data gatherers at JATO Dynamics have managed to collate the figures and estimations for 151 markets around the globe.

And the winner, which you might have seen coming if you’ve been following electric vehicle (EV) news of late, is none other than the Tesla Model Y.

According to JATO, the electric crossover model managed a global volume of 1,223 million units in the full year of 2023, placing it ahead of the Toyota Rav4 (1,075 million) and Honda CR-V (846,000).

The Toyota Corolla and Corolla Cross models took fourth and fifth spots, respectively, but if you decided to view them as a single nameplate then it would actually take the top position by a huge margin with 1.51 million combined sales.

The world’s top selling vehicles in 2023. Picture: JATO Dynamics

The Model Y wasn’t the only EV to set the sales charts alight, with the Tesla Model 3 taking tenth spot and the BYD Qin emerging as the 12th top seller.

“Impressively, the Model Y secured this position without a presence in most emerging markets, where it continues to be unaffordable for the majority of consumers,” Jato Dynamics stated.

Currently, the Tesla brand is not represented in South Africa, with its local-born founder having previously stated that the country’s high tax threshold for EVs was the main hindering factor.

ALSO READ: Here’s why electric cars are not yet popular in South Africa.

It is interesting to compare these figures with South Africa’s sales numbers from 2023.

Mzansi’s top-seller overall, the Toyota Hilux, only ranked eighth on the global sales charts, while our second and third most popular bakkies, the Ford Ranger and Isuzu D-Max, did not make the top 25 globally.

SA’s best seller ranked eighth globally. Picture: Supplied.

South Africa’s best-selling passenger car of 2023, the Volkswagen Polo Vivo, is no longer sold in other world markets as it is based on the previous-generation model, but the latest Polo hatch was 10th in SA and 20th globally.

ALSO READ: These were South Africa’s 30 best selling vehicles for the whole of 2023.

What else did we learn from the JATO sales survey?

Just like in South Africa, SUVs and crossovers are becoming increasingly popular, rising to an overall global market share of 47% in 2023. Sales of these pavement hoppers grew by a whopping 16% between 2022 and 2023.

Chinese car brands also gained significant traction, particularly in developing regions such as Africa, Latin America and the Middle East.

"Negligence from legacy automakers, which has resulted in consistently high car prices, has inadvertently driven consumers towards more affordable Chinese alternatives,” said Felipe Munoz, Senior Analyst at JATO Dynamics.

“As car prices continue to rise elsewhere, Chinese car brands are capitalising on this trend to gain market traction at a much faster pace."

ALSO READ: Chinese car brands getting increasingly popular, but they better not make the mistake the Koreans made.

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