As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Australia’s Best New Car News, Reviews and Buying Advice

Out-Flanked By The Kiwis? No, not again!

 If you were asked  “Which country has the highest car ownership in the world (per capita)?”,  what would your answer be?

Most would say the USA, but, guess what? They’d be wrong. In fact it doesn’t even figure in the top ten! Worse still, if you were asked who ranks higher, Australia or New Zealand, you’d probably say Australia, but you’d be wrong again, drat it!

The actual top ten car owning nations (according to World Bank data) is as follows:-

Rank Country Motor Vehicles per 1000 people
    1  Monaco 771
    2  Luxembourg  666
    3  Iceland  644
    4  New Zealand  602
    5  Italy  596
    6  Puerto Rico  582
    7  Malta  566
    8  Australia  565
    9  Cyprus  529
  10  Slovenia  522

Now, let’s emphasise, this is car owning nations, it does not include trucks, SUV’s etc. (we’ll look at those figures later).

Still, what a surprise, USA is nowhere and the list is headed by two tiny principalities that would hardly have any room for cars! Both Monaco and Luxembourg are tax havens for the super rich, so that’s not such a surprise- but where do they put them?

Iceland ranks 3rd?? Thought that was iced up for much of the year. Puerto Rico? Thought that was a poor nation…perhaps they have aged autos, and New Zealand out ranking Oz? No, that’s not on!

So, let’s put the record straight and include all vehicles including SUV’s and vans and see what we get.

Now the list looks like this:-

Rank Country Motor Vehicles per 1000 people
1  Monaco  908
2  United States  812
3  Liechtenstein  796
4  Luxembourg  749
5  Malta  743
6  Australia  730
7  Iceland  724
8  New Zealand  718
9  Brunei  696
10  Italy  690


Monaco and all its millionaires still tops the list, but the USA now ranks second and Australia out ranks New Zealand-much better!

Yet Iceland still ranks prominently, but why? And notice how other island nations like Malta, Guam and Cyprus figure well, so perhaps it’s a common thread, but why?

So where does the world’s biggest car producing nation,China, figure?

Right now they are not even in the top 100, but, at 101, they soon will be, as more than 15 million vehicles are destined for their home market this year, and it’s growing at over 5 per cent per annum.

The smallest vehicle owning nations are, as you would expect, the poorer nations on Earth-Togo (2 vehicles per 1000 population), Solomon Islands, Bangladesh, Somalia and Ethiopia ( 3 per 1000).

The world average is 148 vehicles per 1000, so we are five times more populated than average with vehicles in Australia.

For a complete list of 144 car owning nations click here.

Best Sellers

So these are ownership figures- how about  the popularity poll? What are the top ten selling cars in the world?

According to Forbes magazine the top ten selling cars in 2011 were:-


Rank      Model  Annual Sales Worldwide
1  Toyota Corolla                 1,020,000
2  Hyundai Elantra                 1,010,000
3  Wuling Sunshine*                    943,000
4  Ford Focus                    919,000
5  Kia Rio                    815,000
6  Ford Fiesta                    781,000
7  Volkswagen Jetta                    745,000
8  Toyota Camry                    726,000
9  General Motors Cruze                     691,000
10  Volkswagen Golf                     648,000


As a comparison, the biggest selling car made in Australia is the Holden Commodore, which sold 40,617 in 2011.

Most impressive on the list is Volkswagen who scored two top spots- and they also made no.11 with the Passat.

* The most interesting name on the list is the Wuling Sunshine, which is a small people carrier that sells mainly in China (see our What’s in a Name blog).

Its huge popularity stems from the fact that firstly it has the ability to carry up to 8 people, it can be easily converted into a van, and probably most importantly, sells for under $4000.






Where to now?

Huge changes have taken place in the auto industry- traditional manufacturers have faded away, new makers have come onto the scene, car styles have changed dramatically- SUV’s were minor players a couple of decades ago.

China looks like it’s becoming a major player, will India challenge? Or will a currently unknown nation emerge? Fascinating stuff, eh? Let’s have your thoughts below.