In 2021, the Volkswagen Golf and Peugeot 208 were the best-selling car models in Europe with the Tesla Model 3 the top-selling electric vehicle.
In 2021, the Volkswagen Golf was again the top-selling car model in Europe but its popularity is in decline as the compact car sector continued to shrink. The Peugeot 208 was the second most popular car model in Europe followed by the Dacia Sandero that also outsold the Renault Clio in 2021. Three small SUVs made it onto the top-ten list: the Peugeot 2008, VW T-Roc, and the Renault Captur. The Tesla Model 3 was the best-selling electric car in Europe in 2021.
Top 25 Best-Selling Car Models in Europe in 2021 (Full Year)
The 25 most popular car models in Europe in 2021 according to JATO were:
The overall rankings by model saw several significant changes but confirmed the Volkswagen Golf as the most popular new car in Europe in 2021. The compact narrowly held on to the top spot despite facing major challenges in terms of production and increasing internal competition.
Volkswagen Golf Again Europe’s Favorite Car Model in 2021
In 2021, the VW Golf gained 205,408 new registrations – less than 10,000 units ahead of the Peugeot 208 in second position. With a 28% drop in volume compared with 2020, and 50% compared with 2019, it is clear that the Golf’s competitors are closing in fast. The German compact has led the European market since 2008, but the increasing popularity of the small and compact SUVs, along with more internal competition, affected its performance. Sales of compact cars in Europe in 2021 were 13% lower than in 2020 and 32.4% lower than in 2019.
See also: 2021 (Full Year) Europe: New Car Sales and Market Analysis for the top three car models per market segment in Europe in 2021.
The waning popularity of the Golf is also at least partly due to the lack of an electrified model. As more consumers look to switch to EVs they are instead opting for the ID.3, Europe’s third best-selling BEV in 2021.
Volkswagen also struggled with production issues — the Golf and Tiguan production lines in Wolfsburg came to a complete halt at times due to a shortage in semiconductors. Furthermore, the Golf received a drubbing in the German motor press for lower quality cabin materials and fiddly instruments.
Top Ten Best-Selling Car Models in Europe in 2021
Although the Golf remained Europe’s favorite car model in 2021, several other models changed rank positions. The Peugeot 208 gained second place from the Renault Clio, which slipped back to fourth, only around 600 cars behind the 208. Of the top-ten cars, only the VW Golf lost more sales since 2019. The Dacia Sandero moved ahead of the Clio to win the internal group race.
The Peugeot 2008 increased sales by nearly a quarter — the best performance of any top-ten car. The 2008 was also the only top model with higher sales than in 2019 but that was mostly due to a model change in 2019 than any other factor.
The VW T-Roc was the top-selling SUV from the Volkswagen Group that supplied a fifth of all cars in the largest car segment in Europe. It easily outsold the more expensive Tiguan that was beset with production issues.
The Toyota Yaris was the most popular Japanese car model in Europe in 2021. The Yaris, produced in France, was in the top 10 in 14 European countries in 2021.
Three further Stellantis models rounded out the top ten: the Opel Corsa outsold the VW Polo and the Ford Fiesta (44th) despite weaker sales. The Fiat 500 increased sales by 24% — only the 2008 performed better. The Citroen C3 entered the top ten with stronger sales, although still a quarter down on 2019 sales
Tesla Model 3 — Best-Selling Electric Car Model in Europe in 2021
Tesla’s volume in Europe soared from 29,300 units in 2018 to almost 168,000 in 2021 due to the success of the Model 3. The Model 3 was not only Europe’s best-selling electric car but secured a place in the top 20 of the overall model rankings. It was the only battery-electric car model in the top 50 — sales of the Renault Zoe were around 72,000 cars and the VW ID3 around 69,000.
More units of the Model 3 were registered than amongst others the Peugeot 3008, Volkswagen Tiguan, BMW 3 Series, and Fiat Panda. It made the top 10 in 5 countries: Austria (10th), Germany (10th), Norway (1st), Switzerland (1st), and the UK (2nd position).
European Car Sales Statistics for 2021 (Full Year)
- 2021 — European New Car Market Overview and Analysis
- 2021 — Car Sales per EU, UK, and EFTA Country
- 2021 — Europe: Best-Selling Car Manufacturers and Brands
- 2021 — Top 25 Best-Selling Car Models in Europe
Car Sales Statistics for Europe in 2021
- Car Sales and Market Analysis: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December, Full Year 2021
- Top-Selling Car Models: Top 25 Models 2021, Top 15 Electric Models
- Sales per European Country: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year
- Sales by Brand: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year
- Electric and PHEV Sales by Country: Q1, Half Year, Q3, Full Year, Top Electric Brands and Models