We predicted it in February and now it's confirmed. The Tesla Model Y was the best-selling car in the world in 2023. The mid-sized American SUV has made history not only for coming in first place, but also for doing so in such a short time since its introduction to the market, and it's the first time an all-electric car has topped the global rankings.

The Tesla Model Y was officially unveiled in March 2019, meaning its first full year on the market was 2020, when the pandemic hit the markets. Excluding that terrible, abnormal year, it took the Model Y just three years to rise to the top.

That's a remarkable achievement, especially when you consider that this vehicle isn't available everywhere in the world. It is one of the few cars to appeal to consumers as diverse as the Chinese, Americans and Europeans.

Tesla makes history

According to our research, the Tesla SUV sold 1.22 million units last year. That's 64% more than in 2022, or almost 480,000 more units. That's the other reason it made history. No other car has achieved such annual growth.

<p>Tesla Model Y</p>

Tesla Model Y

Finally, the Tesla Model Y has also made history, as it is the first time that an all-electric vehicle has topped the world rankings. Until now, Toyota's hybrid models have come closest to achieving this feat, but not all of them have succeeded. As the world continues to shift from combustion engine cars to zero-emission cars, the Tesla Model Y can proudly say that it was the first to occupy this position.

Numerous Japanese models in the top 25

Further down the world rankings, Toyota placed five models in the top 10 thanks to the popularity of the RAV4 in China and North America, good results from the Corolla family (the saloon dropped two places due to increased demand for its sister Corolla Cross), the Camry's strong position as the world's most popular mid-size saloon, and good results from the Toyota Hilux, the most popular vehicle in emerging markets.

Honda also achieved good results with the CR-V, which came third. The Civic saloon, Accord and HR-V also made it into the top 25, showing that Honda is very strong in Asia and North America.

<p>Toyota RAV4</p>

Toyota RAV4

<p>Honda CR-V</p>

Honda CR-V

The popularity of the Ford F-150 in the US and Canada was enough to put it in seventh place, even though it is not available in most parts of the world. Its rivals, the Chevrolet Silverado 1500 and Ram 1500, occupy 16th and 18th place respectively. These vehicles accounted for 14% of vehicle sales in the United States and Canada.

The second best-selling electric vehicle in the world was once again a Tesla, the Model 3, in tenth place, with volumes up by 5% thanks to the introduction of the facelift version.

Tesla Model 3

Tesla Model 3

BYD ACT 3

BYD Act 3

Chinese manufacturers also made it into the top 25, with BYD placing three of its models: the Qin, a compact saloon with an electrified engine that is very popular in China; the Song Plus, a mid-size SUV; and the Yuan Plus, or Atto 3, which recorded the biggest percentage change compared with 2022, at +119%.

Finally, only two European models feature in the top 25. The Volkswagen Polo hatchback and the Volkswagen Jetta. This reminds us that the European industry may not be fully aligned with global trends.

Will we continue to see more Chinese models at the expense of European and American models?

The best-selling cars in the world in 2023

  1. Tesla Model Y, 1,223,000
  2. Toyota RAV4, 1,075,000
  3. Honda CR-V, 846,000
  4. Toyota Corolla Sedan, 803,000
  5. Toyota Corolla Cross, 716,000
  6. Toyota Camry, 651,000
  7. Ford F-150, 624,000
  8. Toyota Hilux, 605,000
  9. Nissan Sentra, 534,000
  10. Tesla Model 3, 509,000
  11. Honda Civic Sedan, £479,000
  12. BYD Qin, 474,000
  13. Nissan X-Trail, 462,000
  14. Honda Accord, 451,000
  15. Hyundai Tucson EWB, 423,000
  16. Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 412,000
  17. Hyundai Elantra, 399,000
  18. RAM 1500, £374,000
  19. BYD Song Plus, 370,000
  20. Volkswagen Polo HB, 364,000
  21. Volkswagen Jetta, 362,000
  22. Mazda CX-5, 357,000
  23. BYD Yuan Plus, £356,000
  24. Suzuki Swift, £354,000
  25. Honda HR-V, 336,000
  26. Toyota Highlander, 334,000
  27. Ford Ranger, 333,000
  28. Kia Seltos, 332,000
  29. Ford Escape, 331,000
  30. Nissan Qashqai, 315,000
  31. Kia Sportage EWB, €314,000
  32. Volkswagen Lavida, 310,000
  33. Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, £309,000
  34. BYD Dolphin, £309,000
  35. Volkswagen T-Roc, £308,000
  36. Dacia/Renault Sandero, 307,000
  37. Toyota Yaris Cross, 305,000
  38. Peugeot 208, 299,000
  39. Renault Clio, 294,000
  40. Hyundai Creta, 293,000
  41. Volkswagen T-Cross, 289,000
  42. Toyota Yaris Sedan, £285,000
  43. Isuzu D-Max, £281,000
  44. Haval H6, 280,000
  45. BMW X3, £279,000
  46. Audi Q5, 266,000
  47. Toyota Yaris, 266,000
  48. Hyundai Kona, 264,000
  49. Saipa Tiba, 262,000
  50. Toyota Tacoma, 259,000

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

Gallery: Tesla Model Y (2023)