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Following preliminary sales results announced in February, JATO dynamics has confirmed that the Tesla Model Y was the world’s best selling car in 2023. 

This historic statistic marks the first time an electric car has been the most popular vehicle globally. It achieved 1,223,000 sales for a huge 64 per cent improvement on 2022 to beat previous winners such as the Toyota RAV4 (1,075,000) and Honda CR-V (846,000).

Although Model Y’s lead is perhaps not surprising to Oceanic, US or European readers, JATO dynamics analyst Felipe Munoz points out the astounding achievement given the Model Y’s lower demand in emerging markets. 

The strength of Japanese makers in general, and the RAV4 and CR-V in particular, is that they are not only popular in markets like the United States, Australia and Europe but are offered in lower cost guises that can succeed in growth markets including India (4.13 million sales), Brazil (2.12 million) and Iran (1.43 million).

Following the CR-V came the Toyota Corolla sedan (803,000), Corolla Cross small SUV (715,000) and Camry sedan (650,000).

The world’s most popular pick-up truck was the Ford F-150 (623,000) closely followed by the Toyota HiLux (605,000). In ninth spot was the Nissan Sentra (534,000) with the Tesla Model 3 (508,000) sneaking into the top 10. 

Ford F-150.
Ford F-150.

Australia’s top 10 featured the Ford Ranger, Toyota HiLux and Isuzu D-Max all ahead of the fourth-place Toyota RAV4. The Model Y took sixth spot locally trailing another Chinese-made SUV, the MG ZS

There was not a single passenger car in our top-10 – all were either SUVs or light commercial vehicles. It’s also worth noting our new-car market is forecast around 1.2 million units this year – less than the Model Y on its own globally.

But Tesla may not remain at the top of the tree this year, and it will certainly become more challenging come 2025. Its Model 3 and Model Y are both due a facelift if they are to stay competitive in mature markets. 

2024 Honda CR-V.
2024 Honda CR-V.

Additionally, there is so much growth coming from what Jato has defined as emerging markets that the Model Y and Model 3 are not well-placed to capture. In total, these countries accounted for 22 per cent of new vehicle sales last year. 

The other looming threat for Tesla is China. For the first time in 2023, Chinese brands sold more cars than United States brands. The highest selling model was the BYD Qin sedan in 12th followed by the Song Plus – known as the Sealion 6 here – in 19th spot. 

Japan remained at the top of the tree, with 29.1 per cent of all new vehicle sales coming from the country’s marques and European brands accounting for 24.9 per cent. 

Top 10 best selling vehicles in the world


2023 sales

2023 Variance

Tesla Model Y



Toyota RAV4



Honda CR-V



Toyota Corolla sedan



Toyota Corolla Cross



Toyota Camry



Ford F-150



Toyota HiLux



Nissan Sentra



Tesla Model 3





John Law
Deputy News Editor
Born in Sydney’s Inner West, John wasn’t treated to the usual suite of Aussie-built family cars growing up, with his parents choosing quirky (often chevroned) French motors that shaped his love of cars. The call of motoring journalism was too strong to deny and in 2019 John kickstarted his career at Chasing Cars. A move to WhichCar and Wheels magazine exposed him to a different side of the industry and the glossy pages of physical magazines. John is back on the digital side of things at CarsGuide, where he’s taken up a role as Deputy News Editor spinning yarns about the latest happenings in the automotive industry. When he isn’t working, John can be found tooling around in either his 2002 Renault Clio Sport 172 or 1983 Alfasud Gold Cloverleaf.  
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