The global market for passenger cars is as large as it is diverse. Thanks to the customisation of products and the support of various governments to promote the local industry, you can find many different brands and models all over the world. While China, North America and Europe account for around 70 per cent of the global market, brands are also trying to establish a presence in the remaining 30 per cent.

Global? What does that mean?

It is important to understand what it means to be a "global" brand. By global, we mean a company that is present on all continents. A brand does not have to be present in every single country in the world, but with operations in North America, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Europe, Eurasia, South Asia, South East Asia and the Pacific region, China, Japan and Korea. This is what we define as truly global.

Based on our definition, we can say that there are very few brands with this global presence. Toyota is probably the most global automotive brand today, with a presence in almost every country in the world. Although China and North America account for 43% of sales in 2023, Toyota also has a strong presence in its Japanese home market, Europe, Southeast Asia and the Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa. The company is also present in Central Asia and India-Pakistan. Only in Korea is Toyota weak.

Toyota 2023 global light vehicle sales distribution - graphic

As the world's best-selling car brand, Toyota also has one of the broadest product ranges of any car brand available today. The Japanese brand can easily reach different consumers all over the world thanks to the customisation of its products. Toyota is not only known everywhere, but also enjoys a good reputation in many countries. In some of them, Toyota is positioned as a pure mainstream brand (North America, Japan, China, Europe). In others, Toyota plays a semi-premium role, such as in some markets in Latin America, the Middle East and South East Asia.

Hyundai 2023 global light vehicle sales distribution - graphic

The second largest global brand is the Korean manufacturer Hyundai. Like Toyota in Korea, its only Achilles heel is Japan. However, global sales are fairly well distributed: 24% in the USA and Canada, 16% each in Korea, India-Pakistan and Europe; around 7% each in China and Middle East-Africa. It is clear that Hyundai has adopted Toyota's strategy of creating special products through localisation. The sister brand Kia is more dependent on the North American (30 %), European (21 %) and Korean (20 %) markets.

Brand China Eurasia Europe India-Pakistan Japan
Toyota 20.4% 0.1% 11.3% 2.6% 17.2%
Volkswagen 44.5% 0.0% 32.6% 0.9% 0.6%
Honda 32.5% 0.0% 2.3% 2.5% 15.6%
Hyundai 7.0% 1.3% 16.0% 16.1% 0.0%
Ford 5.4% 0.0% 26.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Nissan 22.7% 0.0% 11.3% 1.0% 15.5%
Kia 3.3% 1.3% 20.9% 8.9% 0.0%
Chevrolet 6.1% 1.7% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0%
Mercedes 33.3% 0.1% 38.6% 0.7% 2.2%
BMW 36.6% 0.1% 34.0% 0.6%

1.5%

Fiat 0.0% 0.0% 55.0% 0.0% 0.4%
Peugeot 4.1% 0.0% 80.6% 0.0% 0.7%
Citroën 4.1% 0.0% 83.1% 1.4% 0,7%
Opel/Vauxhall 0.1% 0.0% 97.3% 0.0% 0.0%
Suzuki 0.3% 0.0% 7.2% 59.7% 21.7%
Renault 0.0% 0.0% 72.4% 3.1% 0.4%
Brand Korea Latin America MEA SE Asia-Pacific North America
Toyota 0.1% 5.5% 6.5% 13.0% 23.2%
Volkswagen 0.2% 10.8% 1.7% 0.9% 7.8%
Honda 0.0% 3.1% 0.6% 9.8% 33.5%
Hyundai 16.2% 7.8% 6.6% 4.9% 24.2%
Ford 0.1% 3.8% 2.2% 5.5% 56.9%
Nissan 0.0% 11.9% 4.9% 3.1% 29.6%
Kia 19.8% 6.1% 4.8% 4.5% 30.3%
Chevrolet 1.4% 22.4% 1.8% 0.1% 66.4%
Mercedes 3.2% 1.5% 1.5% 2.4% 16.4%
BMW 3.5% 1.6% 1.7% 2.8% 17.6%
Fiat 0.0% 43.5% 1.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Peugeot 0.2% 10.4% 3.3% 0.6% 0.0%
Citroën  0.0% 8.2% 2.4% 0.1% 0.0%
Opel/Vauxhall 0.0% 0.6% 1.9% 0.1% 0.0%
Suzuki 0.0% 2.7% 3.6% 4.8% 0.0%
Renault 1.4% 17.2% 4.9% 0.5% 0.0%

Preliminary data. Excluding some countries.

The Americans and Europeans

The American and European brands could be described as "mainstream", but are less present worldwide. After several years of shifting priorities, Ford now concentrates the majority of its activities in two regions: North America and Europe. These two markets will account for around 83% of global sales in 2023. The brand has decided to discontinue local production in India and Brazil after many difficult years. The brand has virtually no presence in Japan and Korea and is virtually unknown in Central Asia.

The same applies to rival Chevrolet. It also withdrew from India and Europe a few years ago. According to provisional figures, the American continent accounted for 88% of global sales last year.

The major European brands are not well positioned either. Volkswagen, the second best-selling brand in the world, sold 77% of its cars in just two markets: China and Europe. Renault sold almost 90% of its vehicles in Europe and Latin America; almost all Fiat cars sold in 2023 (98%) remained in Europe (including Turkey) and Latin America. Sister brand Peugeot sold 80% of its vehicles in Europe, while Citroën also sold 83% of its vehicles in this region.

The author of the article, Juan Felipe Munoz, is Automotive Industry Specialist at JATODynamics.