Ford Focus, Toyota Corolla fight over best-selling vehicle nameplate

Article by Anita Panait, on April 16, 2013

Ford and Toyota are both laying claim to the "world's best-selling vehicle nameplate" title. While Ford announced last week that its Ford Focus is the "world's best-selling vehicle nameplate" in 2012, Toyota is insisting that its Toyota Corolla was the real title-holder. Each carmaker sold over a million of their own nameplates, and they want more than just selling hordes of vehicles – they want to have the bragging rights, which only one of them could really claim.

So as to which nameplate is really the number one is the world, the answer is not that easy to determine since it depends on the definition of "nameplate," which body styles or derivatives are included, and who is keeping track of the sales figures. Erich Merkle, Ford's top sales analyst, cited Polk global new-vehicle registration data as basis for the carmaker’s claim to the title. Toyota spokesman Dion Corbett, begs to differ, saying that the Corolla is the global number one.

Ford issued a press release last week citing Polk data that said the "Ford Focus nameplate" topped the 2012 global vehicle registration figures. On Polk’s count, Ford sold around 1,020,410 Ford Focuses in 2012, boosted by gains in China and the United States. Polk’s count of the global figures for the Corolla was 872,774 in 2012.

Toyota, however, disagreed with Polk’s data, saying that it sold 1,160,764 Corollas in 2012. Polk is sticking to the figures Ford cited. Anthony Pratt, Polk vice president of forecasting, said that the difference in the totals is "related to the definition of nameplate. He said that Ford adhered to the one-name 'nameplate' definition for the Focus.

In counting the registration figures for the Corolla, the numbers excluded any rebadged vehicles, platform derivatives or nameplate versions, Pratt said. This means that Ford excluded Corollas with different body styles that carry two-word names like the Corolla Rumion.

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