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California Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Sales Increasing, Other Powertrains Decreasing in Sales

Contact: Jenny Dudikoff
Phone: 916-441-2599

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California green vehicle market continues to experience increases year over year, specifically in the hybrid and electric vehicle space. According to the California Green Vehicle Report, while these vehicles have achieved an all-time market high, market trends for other powertrain types show notable decreases. Despite the progress in green vehicle sales, consumers still overwhelmingly prefer gasoline powered vehicles.

“While the new vehicle market is experiencing a slight decrease in sales, we are encouraged that consumers are still purchasing vehicles. With an increase in electric and hybrid vehicle sales, it is safe to say that California consumers are opening up more to the idea of alternative vehicles, but the traditional gas powered vehicle is by far still the preference of more than eighty percent of California drivers,” said California New Car Dealers Association Chairperson, Ted Nicholas of Three-Way Chevrolet in Bakersfield. “California still has a long way to go to address consumer concerns when it comes to Zero Emission Vehicles, including issues like charging infrastructure, convenience, range and affordability. These factors cannot be ignored, and all play a role in consumer purchasing behavior,” Nicholas added.  

Electric vehicle sales in California have increased dramatically so far in 2019 from this time last year, experiencing an increase of 63.7 percent. Hybrid vehicle sales are up by 22.1 percent year to date. This trend holds true regionally, where combined electric and hybrid vehicle sales are up 14.9 percent in Northern California and 9.9 percent in Southern California.

“While electric vehicle sales are up quite significantly year to date, it is noteworthy that the vast majority of the electric vehicle market sales can be directly attributed to Tesla’s Model 3, with more than 33,000 sales year to date. This begs the question: is this sustainable or is this a temporary swing in the marketplace when considering Tesla’s distribution timelines,” stated Brian Maas, California New Car Dealers Association President. “There is a lot to consider when looking at these electric vehicle numbers, it is premature to assume this type of consumer behavior and purchasing trends of one particular brand are permanent.”

Gasoline powered vehicle sales are down 7.3 percent year to date, but consumers are still purchasing the traditional Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) more than 80 percent of the time, with overall sales making up 81.6 percent of the market.

Additionally, brand share in the alternative powertrain market has shifted this year. With Toyota typically being the front runner, Tesla now takes that title with 32.6 percent market share. Rounding out the Top 5 California brands for hybrid, plug in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles are Toyota, Honda, Ford and Lexus.

The California Green Vehicle Report provides comprehensive information on the state’s green vehicle market. The report includes a segment watch, including top 20 best-selling alternative powertrain vehicles; best sellers in market segments including hybrid, plug in hybrid, electric and fuel cell; market trends by powertrain type and brand shares in alternative powertrain market. The complete report can be accessed on CNCDA’s website here.


California Green Vehicle Report is produced for CNCDA by Auto Outlook, Inc., an independent research company specializing in the analysis of statewide and regional automotive markets.  When reporting these auto industry trends please acknowledge the Data Source: IHS Markit.


For more than 95 years, CNCDA has represented the interests of California’s franchised new car dealers. CNCDA members are primarily engaged in the retail sale and lease of new and used motor vehicles, but also provide customers with automotive products, parts, service and repair. Our members sold more than 2 million new cars and trucks in 2017 and employ more than 140,000 Californians, significantly contributing to our state’s economy. As the nation’s largest state association of franchised new car and truck dealers—with nearly 1,200 members—CNCDA serves its members by providing legal compliance and legislative, regulatory and legal advocacy. 

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