Highest Selling Sedan For The Past Two Decades


When we talk about the ultimate sedan in Pakistan in terms of sales there is one car that stands out from the rest, The Toyota Corolla. This car has always had raging sales as the statistics suggest almost an uncountable figure. The crown prince of streets and mid-sized prancing horses, the Toyota Corolla has always been a bestseller and down the line it may be cemented as such for a long time. Down below in the ensuing words, we’ll tell you why that is!


After the debut of the Toyota Corolla in the Japanese market in 1966, it wasn’t long until the global market would also encounter the legendary Corolla. Pakistani market was introduced to the car following the set up of a local assembly line in Karachi. In 1993, Indus Motors assembled the first ever batch of the 7th Generation Toyota Corolla in Pakistan. 

The car was well received by the Pakistani market. Once sales of this car boomed, it has been on an upward trajectory ever since. This phenomenon of Corolla being king of the sales was evidenced in the decade of 2000s. It was confirmed by JICA’s (Japan International Cooperation Agency) Main Report on the Project for Automobile Industry Development Policy in The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, January 2011. Notice: Further information has been taken from PAMA – Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association.  

The Findings

JICA’s report affirmed the prevailing market situation stating, “Corolla being part of large sedans (which at that time was and still is the segment of 1300cc to 1800cc cars) is the best seller of its class, among other things.” Much of the data and figures discussed in this op-ed, has been taken from the aforementioned report and various other referenced sources (which are also mentioned individually).


Early Ups And Downs  

Initially, in the early 2000’s the overall sales of large sedans were slow. Towards the middle of the decade the sales downturn escalated. At that time 25,000 units were sold, a great number then, however the number is considered to be low according to current standards. By the time the fiscal period of 2006 – 2007 arrived, sales picked up quickly and now the number of units had grown to 66,000. The numbers went up a little more in the 2004/2005 and the 2005/2006 annual cycles before the aforementioned fiscal year. The number during these cycles steadily increased to 10000 units each year. 

How Did It Fare In The 2000s?

Before and during the recession, sales slightly decreased. The red herrings were there even before the recession as the numbers of cars went down. Recession was one of the factors as problems with the ninth generation and diesel problems contributing to the 2.0D trim led to a decrease in sales during the said period. These problems are elaborated in one of the following sections. During 2007 and 2008, 50,000 units were sold.  The quantity sold decreased more so to approximately 38,000 units in 2008 and 2009.

With the economic upturn in the years 2009/2010, the sales went up to a level of 60000 units overall. Much of the share in these units were of the Corolla, especially at the height of this economic upturn. One had to wait for 6 months to get delivery of the car due to the scarcity in its supply.   

In the 2009/2010 alone, the market share of Toyota in this segment was 71% with the total Corolla units sold at 43,510 out of 61,008 of the overall total. Even in the previous year, the market share of Toyota was around 66% and had been mostly topping the segment before that, an exceptional achievement considering the fact the price of Toyota Corolla was changed with an increase in the year 2009 from what it was in 2008.    


Issues With The Ninth Generation And The Demise Of Diesel Corolla

The ninth version in the history of Corolla was touted as ‘Global’ but this generation was clogged with rampant issues, which put a little dent in the sales after the E100 (Seventh Generation – Toyota Indus skipped the eighth). This was evident in the years considered to be the ninth generation’s reign: 2001-2006. While global sales created a new benchmark, Pakistani sales went down like an Indian Gnat. 

The period of 2003-2004, as mentioned above, was especially dull for the Corolla. The ninth generation users were exasperated with engine and transmission problems that intruded their travels. This car’s design might also have been part of the problem. Underperforming investment climate and oil price hikes of 2007 were additional factors that contributed to sales. In Pakistan, the oval shaped design of the headlights and taillights of the cars was extremely panned as prospective buyers were having a hard time finding some semblance of elegance in the design. Toyota Indus rectified with the facelift version though! 

One of the variants, the 2.0D (it had sub variants of its own like the SE and Saloon versions), also created an additional problem of redundancy. The 2.0D (which started from the E100 series) became redundant because diesel became expensive, was substandard by international standards and there were plenty of other cars available with better fuel economies by that time. The main draw of this version used to be the previously inexpensive value of diesel, which began to change when new standards for fossil fuels were set in stone by the government. This meant no more subsidies for diesel as it was no longer fuel efficient by newer standards. It meant Diesel fuel was no longer inexpensive, so was not the 2.0D or any of its variants, which was its unique selling point. 

The last straw of the end came for 2.0D at the beginning of the Tenth Generation. Toyota Indus felt that it was not worth the risk to make diesel cars adaptable to new standards through additional work on the engine. Additionally, newer diesel engines would not be as compatible with the diesel available as it used to be before, which could have led to engine problems.


The Makings Of A Legend In The 2010s

By the time 2010 had made its arrival known, Toyota Corolla was the de-facto king of car sales because its units were selling like hotcakes as the car entered into a new decade, ushering a new era for Corolla. As mentioned before, in the period of 2010 the number of Toyotas sold was 43,510, which by that time, had made this car a market leader. 

The cumulative sales of Toyota Corolla has been seeing a steady increase in its numbers over the years. If there was no increase in the midst then one can be assured, it stayed stagnant enough to help Toyota Corolla retain the top spot in the market share but not stagnantly steady enough that it let others pass by. Even in this aforementioned period Corolla was making it rain for the Toyota Indus Motors.

Overall History Of The Decade

The units sold from the periods 2014 – 2015 to 2018 – 2019 were steady by staying in the bracket of 50,000 to 60,000 units. By Toyota’s standards, numbers were dismal in the early 2010’s decade but caught up quickly. The bar graph below demonstrates Toyota Corolla’s overall sales history during the decade (Statistics taken from Pakistan Automotive Manufacturers Association – PAMA). 


As you can see in the graph, at the end of the decade, the sales of the car were dismal again. There is a specific reason behind this. The Wuhan Coronavirus (COVID-19) began as a negative deterrent to businesses all over the world and the country, which also reached its first peak around the period of Summer 2020. This has precisely slashed the sales of the Toyota Corollas in half.

The second reason is the introduction of Toyota Yaris, which has been courted as the replacement of the XLI and GLI variants of the car. The discontinuation of the said variants of the Corolla has led to decreasing (divided) unit sales. These aforementioned trims were part of the high reaching sales previously since their introduction in the 1990’s under the Corolla nameplate.     

How Is It Doing Against Its Competitors?

The sales data above is suggestive of Corolla being the natural champion of sales ever since it has been introduced. Even at a time its sales have been cannibalized by its manufacturers own new model and COVID-19, the sales continue to fly above others in the market. This is also evidenced in the PAMA Monthly Sales sheet. Its proper name now is the Toyota Corolla Altis (Grande is added if it is the top trim) while the GLI variant nameplate has been taken up by Toyota’s Yaris. 


The reasons cited above, coupled with the evidenced sales data, one can be assured that Toyota Corolla is indeed the highest selling sedan for the past two decades. Even with new additions to the market, it looks to be that way for some time. Perhaps, we will be writing about it staying afloat even after 2030, making it a three decades milestone for its market leadership.

If you are looking into buying or selling a car or any other vehicle, visit OLX Pakistan to find a wide range of vehicles and choose the one that best suits your preferences and budget.

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