Preliminary data had shown the Tesla Model Y was the world’s best-selling car in 2023, but now respected data firm JATO Dynamics has officially given it the title.

    It’s the first electric vehicle (EV) to hold the title of the world’s best-selling vehicle.

    Tesla Model Y sales have grown markedly and reached 1.22 million in 2023, up 64 per cent on the year before.

    It managed this growth despite Tesla’s lack of a presence in most emerging markets.

    “Tesla is a brand made for the developed world. While it cannot currently target these markets, there is potential for emerging markets to be explored as an additional source of growth in the future,” said JATO Dynamics senior analyst Felipe Munoz.

    “Over 17.5 million new cars were sold in the emerging economies in 2023. That is more than the total sales in US or Europe during the year.”

    The Model Y’s tally put it above the Toyota RAV4 and its Chinese Wildlander twin, with 1.07 million units (up 5 per cent), and the Honda CR-V and its Chinese Breeze twin with 846,000 sales (up 18 per cent).

    The RAV4 was the world’s best-selling car in 2022 according to JATO Dynamics data, ahead of the Toyota Corolla/Levin sedan and Tesla Model Y.

    JATO Dynamics’ data is based on official sales data from the 53 markets covered by the firm, plus a mix of official and unofficial data and estimations from another 98 global markets.

    The firm says a total of 78.32 million new passenger cars were sold in 2023, up 10 per cent on 2022, with sales increasing in every region apart from Africa.

    “The growth seen in 2023 is remarkable, especially considering the ongoing geopolitical tensions between China and the USA; the instability generated by conflicts across Europe; the high interest rates that persisted in most of the Western world; and the high price of vehicles,” said Mr Munoz.

    SUVs accounted for 47 per cent of total global passenger car sales, with sales having increased by 16 per cent on the previous year on the back of growing demand in Europe, India, the Middle East and Eurasia.

    Of the 36.72 million SUV sales globally, 54 per cent of these were in China, the USA and Canada.

    Some companies were more dependent on their SUVs than others.

    56 per cent of Hyundai-Kia sales were of SUVs, while 49 per cent of Ford sales were of SUVs.

    In third place was the Volkswagen Group, with 48 per cent of the German giant’s sales being its SUVs.

    Below are the top 25 best-selling vehicles globally in 2023, which JATO Dynamics has rounded to the nearest thousand units.

    ModelSalesGrowth over 2022
    Tesla Model Y1,223,000+64%
    Toyota RAV4/Wildlander1,075,000+5%
    Honda CR-V/Breeze846,000+18%
    Toyota Corolla/Levin sedan803,000-19%
    Toyota Corolla Cross/Frontlander715,000+35%
    Toyota Camry650,000-2%
    Ford F-150623,000+18%
    Toyota HiLux605,000-4%
    Nissan Sentra/Sylphy534,000-1%
    Tesla Model 3508,000+5%
    Honda Civic/Integra sedan478,000+22%
    BYD Qin473,000+43%
    Nissan X-Trail/Rogue461,000+80%
    Honda Accord/Inspire451,000-7%
    Hyundai Tucson (extended wheelbase)423,000+25%
    Chevrolet Silverado 1500412,000+9%
    Hyundai Elantra/Avante/i30 Sedan399,000+5%
    Ram 1500374,000-6%
    BYD Song Plus369,000+9%
    Volkswagen Polo hatch364,000+56%
    Volkswagen Jetta/Sagitar361,000+29%
    Mazda CX-5356,000-2%
    BYD Yuan Plus/Atto 3355,000+119%
    Suzuki Swift354,000+6%
    Honda HR-V/XR-V/Vezel336,000-26%

    JATO Dynamics had projected back in February the Model Y would take the top spot overall for 2023, but at the time there were still a few markets from which it hadn’t obtained sales data.

    MORE: Everything Tesla Model Y

    William Stopford

    William Stopford is an automotive journalist based in Brisbane, Australia. William is a Business/Journalism graduate from the Queensland University of Technology who loves to travel, briefly lived in the US, and has a particular interest in the American car industry.

    Buy and Lease
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers
    Uncover exclusive deals and discounts with a VIP referral to Australia's best dealers