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Small Cars in Big Numbers

In the post-globalized era, chain stores and fast-food eateries can be found almost everywhere on the planet. But when it comes to the most common car models, some of the biggest names remain unfamiliar to Americans.

“The rest of the world is really not a lot like us,” says Bill Visnic, a senior analyst for Edmunds.com, which provided this list of globally popular cars. “Small, compact, affordable cars more or less represent what the rest of the world drives.”

America is big, Americans prefer big, and frankly, Americans are big. As the following slides demonstrate, small cars are popular just about everywhere else, and have been for years, because they’re economical to buy and to run. They make the most sense just about everywhere else but here. But Americans are coming to their senses and becoming more environmentally aware.

Several cycles in recent years have made U.S. consumers consider scaling down. In 2008, Visnic says, we were on the tail end of the SUV boom, and Hummers were still around. Now in 2011, after a recession and huge economic downturn, comes another jump in gas prices. “It shifted our national consciousness, what the needs are compared to the wants,” says Visnic. “The late '90s through the middle 2000s was very much a market driven by wants rather than needs, and we saw that rise of SUVs, [while] pickup trucks got a lot more ostentatious. We kind of lost our minds for a while there.”

By Colleen Kane
Posted June 22, 2011

Photo: ford.com