Toyota RAV4 sales cross 10 million units globally

After a couple of failed attempts by other car-makers to blur the difference between traditional SUVs built on frames and wannabe SUVs built on car-based monocoques, it was Toyota that popularized the 'crossover' with the RAV4. For those who aren't aware, RAV4 stands for Recreational Activity Vehicle: 4-wheel drive. In what is a sign of things to come, sales of the RAV4 zoomed past 10 million units this February.

Toyota's successful compact crossover is rapidly closing in on Ford Model T that sold over 15 million units globally. Volkswagen's iconic Beetle is not that far either, having sold over 20 million units in a life cycle that spawned several decades.

When it debuted in 1994, the RAV4 was one of a kind. It was built on a platform that borrowed heavily from the Corolla sedan but with its high ground clearance and 4-wheel drive hardware, the RAV4 could go where Corollas couldn't.

In the first year, just over 53,000 of these found homes. But the RAV4 was well-placed to ride the SUV boom and saw it's annual sales go up to about 240,000 units in 2004 and over 640,000 units in 2014. In 2019, Toyota sold over 965,000 RAV4s with almost half of them in the United States of America. Remarkably, the RAV4 took 17 years to cross the first 5 million mark and just 7 years to replicate it.

Having cemented its legacy over 25 years and four generations, the fifth-generation RAV4 took over the mantle and is now selling better than ever. From the rugged and off-road-friendly RAV4 Adventure to the chic-looking and powerful RAV4 Prime, Toyota has made sure there is one to suit most buyers and their lifestyles.

RAV4's initial success prompted a host of other car-makers like Honda, Nissan and Ford to follow suit with crossovers of their own. Guess what, every one of them tasted success albeit to varying degrees.

Toyota hasn't made much noise on achieving this milestone. After all, they are the makers of the world's best-selling car of all time - the venerable Corolla - that's closing in on sales of 50 million units globally. The RAV4 is nowhere near. 

But this is a big deal. Here's why. Though the RAV4 is the first crossover to find a place in the list of best-selling cars of all time, it is not going to be the last. With demand for these high-riding vehicles showing no signs of slowing down, it's just a matter of time before the clan take over.

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