By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) Small cars are leading to big global sales for American carmakers, with Ford’s Focus easily beating Toyota’s Corolla for the number one spot, and the Chevrolet Cruze also making the top ten list, ahead of Honda’s Civic.

Data from R.L. Polk shows that global Focus registrations jumped 16 percent last year. The Focus was helped by a new plant in China, which allowed Ford to sell more vehicle in the world’s largest car market.

“Since its launch in China in late March of last year, Focus sales continue to strengthen, with the car now ranking as the best-selling passenger car in China in 2012 for the first time ever,” said Jim Farley, Ford executive vice president, global marketing, sales and service and Lincoln.. “With additional manufacturing capacity added last year, we now have a tremendous opportunity to further strengthen our global small car sales in 2013, with sales off to a very strong start already.”

Ford has two other vehicles on the top ten list, the Fiesta and F-series. Farley says having competitive small cars is very important to being competitive globally.

“Focus and Fiesta represent the culmination of our One Ford global product strategy,” he said. “Through One Ford, we’re able to bring economies of scale and fantastic value to customers all around the world.”

There were 81 million cars and trucks sold around the world last year, a new record. That number is expected to grow this year.

The following list of top ten cars, in terms of global sales as provided by Ford, from Polk registration data:

1 Ford Focus 1,020,410
2 Toyota Corolla 872,774
3 Ford F-Series 785,630
4 Wuling Zhiguang 768,870
5 Toyota Camry 729,793
6 Ford Fiesta 723,130
7 VW Golf 699,148
8 Chevrolet Cruze 661,325
9 Honda Civic 651,159
10 Honda CR-V 624,982

Wuling is Chinese brand, which produces vehicles for the domestic China market as part of a joint venture with GM. The Zhiguang is a boxy minivan style vehicle.

Tastes in European and Asian markets are different than in the United States, where the F-series pickup is perennially the best selling vehicle, and the Toyota Camry has been the best selling car.

The global sales race could become more competitive soon, as Honda has just updated its Civic, and an all new Toyota Corolla is coming soon.

Still, analysts say American made compacts have become much more competitive and are much more attractive to buyers in global markets that had been dominated, in years past, by sales of vehicles from Toyota, Honda and Volkswagen.

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert

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