BMW overtaken by Toyota as most searched car brand for 2020

Phillip Portman

Feb 4, 2021

Google has made it easier than ever to search for vehicles and their features, and new data suggests that many people worldwide were searching for different car brands in 2020 than they were the previous year. In fact, BMW, which dominated searches in 2019, was overtaken by Toyota in 2020 in many countries.

But which other car brands were people searching for in 2020, and how did these searches vary between countries and previous years? By analysing Google Trends data for the top searched vehicle brands for 158 countries on Google in 2018, 2019 and 2020, we created a map that showcases 21 of the world’s most searched vehicle brands.

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*Please note: Some countries haven’t been included due to limited data available. Due to the sampling mechanism of Google Trends, top results – even those historically – are subject to change. Data for 2018 and 2019 was collected between 21/05/2020 and 27/05/2020, while 2020 data was collected on 04/01/2021.


Toyota takes the lead


As the map above shows, Japanese car manufacturer Toyota was the most searched car brand in 2020. Our analysis shows it topped searches in around a third (34.8%) of all countries analysed. It’s down from the 41.1% of top searches among analysed countries in 2018, but up from the 17.7% of top searches in 2019. Toyota was among several brands that saw a boost in popularity in 2020, partly due to BMW experiencing a significant dip in search interest for many countries.

A possible reason why Toyota also sparked interest globally in 2020 was because of the extensive and unique range of vehicles that were announced and released. In December 2020, Toyota launched the C+pod – a new and compact electric two-seater vehicle.1 Other notable releases throughout 2020 included the new GR Yaris,2 a fully redesigned Mirai,3 and an expansion of the popular Corolla series with the new Corolla Cross compact SUV.4

BMW overtaken, but still popular in 2020

BMW was the most searched vehicle brand in 2019 based on our analysis, topping almost three in four (74.6%) of the 158 countries we analysed. However, it only topped searches in 34 countries in 2020, dropping to 21.5% (or around one in five top searches). Still, this was enough to make it the second most searched car brand in the countries we analysed.

BMW still most popular over the three-year period

While Toyota topped the Google search list for the most countries we analysed in 2020, BMW has proven to be the most searched car brand overall between 2018 and 2020. It accounts for 38.3% of all top searches within that period, compared to Toyota’s 31.3%.

Nations continuing to support local brands

As was seen in 2019, some countries continue to search for locally manufactured vehicle brands. For three years running, Swedish company Volvo topped searches in Sweden. It’s a similar story in Japan, where Toyota proved most popular. More Italians searched for local manufacturer Fiat than any other, while BMW continued to dominate searches in Germany and Peugeot got people clicking in France.


By numbers – Which car brands were most searched between 2018 and 2020?



To obtain this information, we used Google Trends data to determine the most-searched vehicle brands for 158 countries around the world between 2018 and 2020. Some countries had limited or no data at all and were omitted from the list. Similarly, we’ve excluded brands or search terms that weren’t car brands from the list.

Due to the sampling mechanism of Google Trends, top results – even those historically – are subject to change. Data for 2018 and 2019 was collected between 21/05/2020 and 27/05/2020, while 2020 data was collected 0n 04/01/2021.

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  1. Toyota – ‘Media release: Toyota Launches “C+pod” Ultra-Compact Battery Electric Vehicle in Japan’ – Accessed 04/01/2021
  2. Toyota – ‘Media release: Toyota Celebrates Launch of New GR Yaris in Japan with Virtual Event’ – Accessed 04/01/2021
  3. Toyota – ‘Media release: Toyota Launches the New Mirai’ – Accessed 04/01/2021
  4. Toyota – ‘Media release: “Corolla Meets SUV”―Toyota Unveils Corolla Cross in Thailand, a New Compact SUV Adding Further Strength and Functionality to the Corolla Series’ – Accessed 04/01/2021