The usual statistics on vehicle sales worldwide include all types of registration. The rankings we observe are the result of the combined sales of private purchases and those made by companies (company cars), fleets (leases) or by dealers themselves (self-registrations). However, an analysis of each type of registration/sale reveals some interesting differences.

In this article, I focus on retail sales volumes, i.e. purchases made by private individuals, based on JATO Dynamics data for 24 countries in Europe and the United States.

It wasn't the Tesla Model Y

Contrary to the general ranking (all types of registrations taken together), the car most registered in Europe in 2023 by private individuals was not the Tesla Model Y, but the Dacia Sandero. This popular B car from the Renault group registered 187,210 units with private customers out of a total of 221,302 units, including company registrations. It is not only the most popular model, but also the one with the highest share of sales to private customers (85%).

Top 10 most privately registered cars in Europe in 2023

Top 10 most privately registered cars in Europe in 2023

This is good news for the French carmaker. Sales to private customers are generally more profitable than sales to leasing companies, businesses or self-registrations (which generally require large discounts after large batches of cars have been traded in, and are therefore of little interest to investors).

The other big message from the Sandero as the best-selling car for private customers is that most consumers in Europe are faced with increasingly expensive cars and a flat income. Many people are simply looking for a reliable means of private transport and the Dacia Sandero is a good choice.

Top 10 brands with the highest share of registrations to private individuals in 2023 in Europe (with registrations above 1,000 units)

Top 10 brands with the highest share of registrations to private individuals in 2023 in Europe (with registrations above 1,000 units)

By contrast, the more expensive Tesla Model Y took second place in the passenger car rankings. The brand registered almost 125,400 units, an increase of 89% compared with 2022. Despite the lower price of the Sandero, the Model Y has become the benchmark for drivers looking for an electric car. Another good result for Tesla. However, retail registrations account for 51% of the model's total, which means that it is also very popular with businesses.

As far as the groups are concerned, Volkswagen leads the way with 1.02 million units, or 32% of the total. It is followed by the Renault Group, which beats out Stellantis by 10,000 units, with 710,000 units, or 61% of total registrations. Stellantis' volume for private customers will account for 34% of total volume in 2023.

The Toyota RAV4 shines in America

Data for the United States is broken down by type of sale (fleet or non-fleet). The rankings exclude volumes for which the type of sale is not identified, i.e. around 10% of the market. On this basis, the Toyota RAV4 tops the non-fleet ranking, ahead of the Tesla Model Y and the popular Ford F-150, in second and third place respectively.

Top 10 best-selling models in America. Non-flat sales in 2023

Top 10 best-selling models in America. Non-flat sales in 2023

The data shows that non-fleet volume accounted for 90% of total RAV4 volume and 99.5% of Model Y volume. The Ford F-150 split was 75% non-fleet and 25% fleet.

In total, non-fleet sales accounted for 85% of new light vehicle sales in the United States. This figure is two percentage points lower than the total recorded in 2022, which means that fleets are gaining ground.

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is a specialist in the automotive industry at the European Union agency JATO Dynamics.