Best selling cars of 2020

Drilling down into the 2020 sales figures recently released by SIMI.

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry recently reported the overall new-car sales figures for 2020 and, understandably, it made for grim reading. Registrations dropped from 117,109 units in 2019 to 88,324 in 2020 as the impact of the Covid-19 crisis bit. But, despite that, some cars still sold better than others, while there was great news for hybrid and electric vehicles – for example, 4,013 new EVs were registered in Ireland during the past 12 months, an increase of 16.5 per cent in the face of all the adversity when compared to 2019’s figure of 3,444 units. Here’s a rundown on the top-five selling new cars in Ireland from 2020, plus the most popular EV of them all.


  1. Toyota Corolla

Overall units were down but Toyota will look on this as a big win. The Corolla held onto the top spot in Ireland for another year and it actually grew its market share to 4.25 per cent, from 3.76 per cent previously. The Corolla looks sharp, has a great chassis and a much-improved interior, plus plenty of hybrid drivetrain choice, which perhaps goes some way to explaining its enduring popularity.

Toyota Corolla

  1. Hyundai Tucson

Once Ireland’s best-selling car, the 2015-launched Tucson is replaced this year by an all-new model, which might explain a sizeable 15.7 per cent fall in sales in 2020. Nevertheless, its market share was up, and buyers are still attracted to its lengthy warranty, its generous standard kit list and its understated yet handsome looks. Mild-hybrid drivetrains introduced during a midlife model refresh helped, too.

Tucson Hyundai

  1. Volkswagen Tiguan

The Volkswagen Tiguan does nothing that spectacular, but then it also does nothing spectacularly wrong, either. A smart appearance inside and out is bolstered by the group’s typically cultured drivetrains, while the choice of the five-seat regular model or the seven-seat Allspace long-wheelbase further widens the options for customers.

Volkswagen Tiguan

  1. Ford Focus

Seemingly ever-present on best-seller lists in Ireland, it’s a sign of the times that the once-dominant Focus is now being swamped by three crossovers – reflecting the consumer shift towards SUV-type vehicles as their preferred family conveyances in recent years. Ford seemed to weather the 2020 storm better than most, the Focus losing less than 10 per cent of its total sales of 2019 in the past 12 months.

Ford Focus

  1. Hyundai Kona

Two of the top five places have been taken by Hyundai, which is a sure indicator of just how far this marque has come in such a short space of time. Backed up by an excellent warranty, the Kona – which isn’t the newest crossover on the market by any stretch of the imagination – continues to find homes thanks to its striking looks and the option of a superb full-electric version. It did lose quite a lot of sales in 2020, though, down 21.03 per cent due to a facelifted model scheduled to land in dealerships any day now.

Hyundai Kona



Looking a bit further down the list, it might appear as if the Skoda Octavia (the seventh best-selling car in Ireland in 2020), the Volkswagen Golf (eighth) and the Nissan Qashqai (ninth) had a particularly rough year of it. All three saw significant falls in unit sales – the Golf dipping from 2,823 units in 2019 to 2,006 registrations in 2020 (-28.94%), the Octavia slumping from 3,199 to 2,045 (-36.07%) and the Qashqai taking a huge hit, dropping from 3,748 units in ‘19 to 1,930 in 2020 (-48.51%). However, the mitigation for all three is that both the Skoda and the Volkswagen were replaced by all-new models in 2020, a process that always sees sales of any vehicle slow down and then recover – even in normal financial times – while the Nissan is due for replacement in 2021 and hasn’t as yet started making the sales recovery that it should do when the latest version lands here.


All of hybrid (11.86 per cent), electric (4.54 per cent) and plug-in hybrid (2.78 per cent) vehicles gained market share in Ireland during 2020, but the big winner was full electrics. More than 4,000 new zero-emissions cars were registered in what was a tough year for the wider automotive market, showing consumer confidence in the long-term future of personal motoring is growing day by day. Unsurprisingly, the best marque in this sector in 2020 was Tesla (selling 780 units in total), with the rest of the top ten rounded out by Hyundai (693 units), Nissan (619 units), Kia (618 units), Volkswagen (533 units), Renault (235 units), MINI (114 units), Audi (107 units), Peugeot (96 units) and then BMW (74 units). After this, the remainder of all EV sales in Ireland were split between Opel, Porsche, MG, Jaguar, Mercedes-Benz and, finally, Honda – which shifted six examples of its brand-new e city car.

The best-selling EV of all was the Tesla Model 3, of which 724 new registrations were recorded during 2020. That represents a huge 92.8 per cent of all the cars Tesla sold in this country last year, as well as a 287.17 per cent increase on its 2019 Model 3 sales of 187 units. It shows that an aspirational yet (relatively) affordable EV will find plenty of willing buyers, even with the public charging infrastructure in Ireland still lagging some way behind the manufacturers’ product output.