Sales Of Electric Cars Top 20% In California, Led By Tesla

LOS ANGELES - The California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) reported on November 1, 2023, that sales of battery electric cars accounted for 21.5% of new car sales in the Golden State during the first 9 months of the year and 22.3% in the third quarter. At the end of Q3 in 2022, sales of electric cars stood at 16.4%. In 2021, that number was 9.1%. So, despite all the weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth lately about how the EV revolution is stalling, the news is pretty good, at least in California.

When hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are included in the calculations, the figure jumps up 35.4% for all vehicles sold year to date in California. Not surprisingly this means gas-powered sales are falling in the state, with the CNCDA reporting ICE market share (including gasoline and diesel vehicles) was 64.6% so far this year, down from 71.6% in 2022 and 88.4% in 2018.

California is known as the vanguard for automotive trends in the country, with shifts in preferences and government policy eventually spreading to the rest of the country. While the state’s share of electric cars exceeds one fifth of all vehicles sold year to date, the figure for the US as a whole stands at 7.4%. California has banned the sale of gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035, although the steady increase in the sale of electric cars suggests that ban may never need to be implemented as people embrace the EV revolution.

Not surprisingly, when digging deeper into the sales data, the Tesla Model Y and Model 3 dominate sales in electric car in the state, at 103,398 and 66,698 respectively. Tesla’s overall market share of battery electric car sales is at 62.9%. In fact, the Tesla Model Y is the top selling vehicle overall in California, followed by the Model 3, the Toyota RAV4 (40,622), and the Toyota Camry (39,293).

While that is good news for Tesla, its overall market share has slipped from 71.8% year to date last year at this time. Competing models from brands like Chevrolet, BMW, Mercedes, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Kia have been slowly eating into Tesla’s market share. Overall, in California, Toyota is the sales king with 15% of sales, followed by Tesla at 13.5%. In the second quarter, Tesla narrowly edged out Toyota for top sales in the state before sales swung back in Toyota’s favor in the third quarter.

That being said, Tesla’s sales in the state climbed by 38.5% year to date, while Toyota’s actually shrank by 0.7%. Time will tell if Tesla’s popularity with the state’s car buyers improves and it can overtake Toyota for the 2023 crown, or if other EV makers can offer better products at better prices and lure California customers who want to purchase electric cars away from the Tesla brand. Certainly, no company can expect to have two thirds of the market to itself forever.


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