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Here are the 10 countries with the most vehicles sold in 2021

The 10 countries with the most vehicles sold in 2021
Photo: Reuters
The pandemic hit hard and is still leaving its mark on the industry, as evidenced by some countries' sales results over the past two years. Automotive expert , Updated:

The pandemic, the microchip crisis, and now the war in Ukraine, the automotive market is constantly subject to elements beyond its control.

Since the fateful month of March 2020, however, things really haven't been easy. In fact, the pandemic has transformed habits, disrupted the economy and changed the game for many.

As a result, there are trends across the globe when it comes to vehicle sales. Will these trends be permanent? Probably not. But some of them may well last over time.

Still, two years after the health crisis began, it is interesting to see how vehicle sales have picked up around the world. In some places, it's strong, while in others, the real recovery has been slow.

An in-depth analysis of the performance of countries around the world has been published by Motor1 on their website. For our part, we were particularly interested in one thing: the countries with the biggest sales numbers.

And also, how these have rebounded from the year 2020, but also how they measure up to the year 2019, the one before the arrival of the coronavirus.

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Familiar players and some surprises

It's easy to name, without consulting any data, the two countries where the most vehicles are sold: China and the United States. A matter of population, a matter of money. After that, it's relatively easy to identify a few players like France, Germany and the United Kingdom, but their order is less obvious.

The following will shed some light on this.

In first place, then, we find China, far ahead of everyone else. In 2021, 26,275,000 vehicles were sold there, a staggering number when you think about it, but very relative to the population. In truth, it's more fascinating to see that in the U.S., 15,043,000 models were delivered, all in relation to a much smaller population than China's.

There are many other considerations, of course, be they geographic or socio-economic, or even demographic, but still, these two countries are far ahead of everyone else.

In third place is Japan, with "only" 4,388,000 vehicles sold. It is ahead of another Asian country, India, where 3,518,000 models were sold.

As for ranks 5, 6 and 7, you have to move to the European continent to find them with Germany (2,881,000), France (2,087,000) and the UK (2,003,000).

In eighth place, we move back to the American continent, to find Brazil, where 1,975,000 transactions were concluded in 2021. This is ahead of South Korea, which is ninth with 1,694,000 sales, as well as Canada, which is making a breakthrough in the top 10 this year with 1,558,000 sales.

Progress... or decline

And beyond these numbers, what is interesting is the trend over the past two years. Within 8 of the 10 countries we're interested in, sales are still down from 2019, and by a significant margin. We're talking 26 percent in Germany and Brazil, 25 percent in the UK, 22 percent in France. In Canada, the results are 14-percent lower than in 2019, a figure identical to Japan. The decline is 12 percent in the United States and 3 percent in South Korea.

In China, there is remarkable stability. In 2021, 6-percent more vehicles were sold than in 2019. There was a 1-percent improvement in India, another emerging market.

There is reason to be optimistic, however, by looking at the trend compared to the challenging pandemic year (2020). Comparing 2021 to the pandemic year, we see progress in most territories. This is the case in China (4 percent), the United States (4 percent), India (26 percent), France (2 percent), the United Kingdom (4 percent ), Brazil (1 percent) and Canada (8 percent).

Three countries were down in 2021 compared to 2020: Japan (3 percent), Germany (9 percent) and South Korea (9 percent).

The numbers don't tell the whole story, of course, but they do give us an interesting picture of reality. What will be relevant to do next year is to do the same exercise.


From this author

Daniel Rufiange
Articles By
Daniel Rufiange
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists