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The Best-Selling Car in America, Every Year Since 1978

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Best-Selling Car in America Since 1978

The Best-Selling Car in America, Every Year Since 1978

Cars have been a staple of the U.S. economy almost since their inception. But as vehicle designs have evolved over time, and consumer tastes alongside them, the best-selling car in America has changed as well.

Finding the right mix of affordability, style, and features has meant that different manufacturers have been in the market lead during different decades.

This infographic from Alan’s Factory Outlet shows the most-purchased cars in the U.S. since 1978, not including trucks and SUVs.

What Is The Best-Selling Car in America By Year?

From 1978 to 2020, over 348 million cars were sold in the U.S., or an average of 8.1 million cars per year. Car sales were especially strong during times of high oil prices, such as following the 1979 oil crisis, as consumers avoided less fuel-efficient trucks and SUVs.

And throughout most of the 20th century, car sales in the U.S. were led by American manufacturers.

From 1978 to 1988, two of the “Big Three” Detroit-based auto manufacturers had the best-selling cars in the country. GM had two models of the Oldsmobile Cutlass and two different Chevrolets in the top spot, while Ford was able to compete with the compact Ford Escort.

But since the late 1980s, Japanese manufacturers started to take over in affordability, reliability, and overall sales.

YearsCar ModelBest-Selling Span (U.S.)
1978–1981Oldsmobile Cutlass4 years
1982Ford Escort1 year
1983Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme1 year
1984–1985Chevrolet Cavalier2 years
1986Chevrolet Celebrity1 year
1987–1988Ford Escort2 years
1989–1991Honda Accord3 years
1992–1996Ford Taurus5 years
1997–2000Toyota Camry4 years
2001Honda Accord1 year
2002–2020Toyota Camry19 years

After Honda and Ford fought closely for the most popular cars with the Accord and the Taurus, Toyota grabbed the crown with the ultra-popular Toyota Camry.

Toyota, which was the world’s largest automaker by market cap for a majority of the last 30 years, also has the world’s best-selling car of all-time with another popular model, the Toyota Corolla.

The company’s cars have resonated with consumers due to reliability, safety, and efficiency in spite of being mass-produced and affordable. High ownership satisfaction and low incidence rates also led Camrys to have high resale value.

Runner Ups and Best-Selling Trucks and SUVs

Just behind Toyota for many years was another Japanese automaker, Honda. The company’s Accord and Civic models consistently ranked just behind the Toyota Camry in U.S. sales throughout most of the 2000s.

Despite most of the world preferring cars for vehicle purchases, the U.S. has become light truck and SUV dominant since the 2000s.

Car ModelUnits Sold (U.S. 2020)
Ford F-Series 787,422
Chevrolet Silverado 594,094
Ram pickup 563,676
Toyota RAV4 430,387
Honda CR-V 333,502
Toyota Camry 294,348
Chevrolet Equinox 270,994
Honda Civic 270,994
GMC Sierra 253,016
Toyota Tacoma 238,806

The proliferation of light trucks also meant that Toyota, one of the world’s leading hybrid sellers, saw the crossover/SUV Toyota RAV4 Hybrid beat the well-known Prius consistently in U.S. sales.

Meanwhile, electric car sales in the U.S. are still far behind, climbing up to 1.8% of sales in 2020 from 1.4% the year before. Compared to countries like Norway where electric cars make up the majority of vehicle sales, the U.S. will likely be dominated by light-trucks for years to come.

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Charted: How the Logos of Select Fashion Brands Have Evolved

For some fashion brands, changing logos mirror the constant loop of reinvention, over decades of building products, markets, and consumer bases.

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A cropped chart with the evolution of six fashion companies’ logos over time.

Charted: How the Logos of Select Fashion Brands Have Evolved

This was originally posted on our Voronoi app. Download the app for free on iOS or Android and discover incredible data-driven charts from a variety of trusted sources.

A global fashion brand needs to balance maintaining a consistent style built painstakingly over the years while adapting to current trends. And for some of them, their changing logos reflect the loop of reinvention, over decades of building products, markets, and consumer bases.

We illustrate the evolution of six fashion companies’ logos over time. Data for the visualization and article is sourced from 1000logos.net.

Nike & Adidas: A Tale of Two Shoe Companies

The world’s largest footwear company, Nike began its journey as Blue Ribbon Sports in 1964. In 1971, they rebranded as Nike, inspired by the Greek goddess of victory.

The famous swoosh logo was designed in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, at the time a Portland State University graphic design student. She was paid $35 dollars for her work (about $270 today). Twelve years later, Nike co-founder Phil Knight have her 500 Nike shares that have remained unsold.

Here’s how often some of the world’s biggest fashion brands have changed their logos since founding.

BrandLogo Changes
👟 Adidas10
👖 Levi's8
✔️ Nike4
👕 Gap4
🐊 Lacoste3
👗 Zara3

Meanwhile, Adidas has far older origins: all the way back to 1920 Germany. Founded by Adolf Dassler, the company split into Adidas and Puma in 1947.

Dassler bought the iconic three stripes from another German sports company in 1947. In 1952, the stripes debuted on Adidas footwear at the Summer Olympics.

Currently, Adidas has several concurrent logos depending on the product line. This includes: the horizontal across a trefoil (Adidas Originals), curved across a circle (Adidas Style) or the diagonal mountain above the brand name (Adidas Performance).

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