The compact Focus beat out the longtime champ, Toyota Motor Corporation (ADR) (NYSE:TM)‘s Corolla, thanks to strong sales around the world – particularly in China, where the new-generation Focus was launched to wide acclaim last spring.
Strong sales around the world
Every year, the respected auto industry analytics firm R. L. Polk compiles new-car registration data from every single country in the world. This takes a few months (which is why we’re hearing about this in April), but the company’s report is considered definitive.
Polk’s report for 2012 says that the Focus was the world sales champ, with a whopping 1,020,410 units sold. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) ttributed much of the Focus’s gains to big sales increases in both China and the U.S. (The Focus was also among Europe’s best-selling cars, but Europe’s economic woes hindered sales totals.)
Sales of the Focus here in the U.S. were up 40% in 2012, as the car was widely praised by reviewers for its solid feel and premium interior features. It has proven to be Ford’s best-ever competitor for the class-leading Corolla and Honda Motor Co Ltd (ADR) (NYSE:HMC) Civic. In fact, the quality of the Focus seemed to catch the two Japanese giants off guard, driving Honda to rush a redo of its Civic to market months ahead of schedule.
Big growth in China, but there’s a catch
But the big story for Focus last year was in China, and I should explain that there’s a bit of controversy here. Ford Motor Company (NYSE:F) ctually sells two different cars called “Focus” in China: The current global model as sold here in the U.S., called “New Focus” and positioned as a premium product, and the last-generation European-model Focus, called “Classic Focus” and sold at more of an entry-level price.