Cars and commercial vehicles continue to be sold at a prodigious pace around the world, with 2016 enjoying a 5.6 per cent increase in auto sales over 2015. In total, more than 84 million cars and light commercial vehicles moved from manufacturers into consumer or company hands last year, the majority going to the top 10 countries of China, USA, Japan, Germany, India, the UK, France, Italy, Brazil and Canada — in that order.
While Canadian and U.S. markets show signs of cooling off, several countries posted double-digit gains, allowing a reshuffling in the deck of the biggest automakers in the world by sales. Here are the top 10:
Having edged past BMW, Mercedes solidifies its 10th place spot in part due to a product onslaught, with several new or refreshed SUVs finding homes across the globe. The C-Class sedan, however, fuelled sales for a total of 2,037,373 Mercedes sold overall, an increase of 9.3 per cent from a year earlier.
For a brand that dropped out of Canada a few years ago, Suzuki’s ninth-place performance might seem a surprise, but the Japanese automaker’s new compact Baleno, along with the Swift, propelled Suzuki to 2,411,334 sales in 2016, an increase of 4.0 per cent over 2015.
A brand that sold less than 35,000 units in Canada only 10 years ago, Kia continues to make inroads. The South Korean automaker’s performance in 2016 resulted in 2,698,718 sales globally, an increase of 9.6 per cent, led by vehicles such as the Sportage, Forte and Rio.
Chevrolet Cruze and Silverado sales may have come down from their peak, but Chevrolet still ranked seventh among global automakers, although it was the only carmaker in the top 10 to see a drop in year-over-year sales, edging lower by 2.7 per cent in 2016, for a total of 3,819,147 units. Were it not for the strong performance of the new Malibu, sales would have been lower.
Hyundai’s new Tucson SUV stimulated growth of the brand in 2016, offsetting slight declines in demand for the Sonata (being replaced with a new model) and Accent (also being refreshed) for a total of 4,156,589 units sold in 2016, a gain of 1.4 per cent over 2015.
The Nissan X-Trail, known as the Rogue in North America, slipped past the usual leader, the Honda CR-V, to take the top spot in the segment for 2016, putting Nissan firmly in fifth spot. With models such as the Qashqai (Rogue Sport in the USA) now hitting new markets, Nissan’s total sales of 4,501,516 units put it within striking distance of fourth-place Honda in 2017.
Honda’s core models — the Accord, Civic, CR-V and HR-V — all contributed to the Japanese automaker’s strong 7.6 per cent growth in 2016, allowing it to post total sales of 4,659,737. An all-new CR-V and new additions to the Civic portfolio should help Honda keep its momentum.
Ford’s F Series of trucks, from the F-150 and up through the range, stamped the American automaker with a solid third-place standing based on 5,856,498 sales overall — despite diminished worldwide returns of the Focus, Escape, Fusion and Fiesta — leading to a year-over-year gain of 2.3 per cent.
Volkswagen’s emissions scandal may have impacted its overall worldwide sales, but the company still sold 2.8 per cent more vehicles in 2016, for a total of 6,111,197 units moved. While its diesel troubles dented sales of the Golf in Europe and the U.S., the car still accounted for the bulk of the German automaker’s overall strength. VW’s compact Polo, Jetta and Tiguan also saw gains. An all-new Tiguan, the new Atlas SUV and revisions to the MK7 Golf and other models should edge VW closer to the No. 1 spot this year.
The Toyota Corolla, RAV4, Prius and Hilux all fed growth of the world’s largest producer of automobiles in 2016 to put it ahead of VW by more than 1.1M units, for a grand total of 7,247,524, an increase of 2.7 per cent over 2015. With its reputation for quality, an all-new Camry this year and the introduction of Toyota’s new C-HR, Toyota will likely keep its hold on the No. 1 spot in 2017.