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California Electric Vehicle Sales Increase in 2018 but Consumers Still Prefer Gas Powered Vehicles

Contact: Jenny Dudikoff
Phone: 916-441-2599

SACRAMENTO, CA – The California green vehicle market continues to experience increases year over year, especially zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) where sales nearly doubled from 2017 to 2018. Despite ZEVs achieving this all-time high market share, according to the California Green Vehicle Report, consumers still strongly prefer gasoline powered vehicles, with sales making up more than 85 percent of total new vehicles registered in the state last year.

“An increase in green vehicle sales is positive for California consumers, businesses and the state’s environmental goals, and we are pleased to see that consumers are increasingly choosing the option of zero emission vehicles.  That said, California has a long way to go to overcome challenges, support the needs of zero emission vehicles, and get consumer buy-in for this advanced technology. Factors like charging infrastructure, convenience, range and affordability all come into play when consumers purchase a vehicle,” said California New Car Dealers Association Chairperson, Ted Nicholas of Three-Way Chevrolet. “While we continue to see progress on this front, the pace of change is relatively slow, especially in regions of the state that are outside of the San Francisco Bay Area.”

2018’s electric vehicle market saw an increase of 2.1 percent from 2017, primarily attributed to Tesla’s Model 3, which made up a majority of electric vehicle sales with more than 51,000 vehicles sold. The Toyota Prius came in second place in the alternative powertrain market, selling just over 19,000 hybrids in 2018.  Total hybrid sales actually dropped in 2018, down .5 percent from 2017.

Additionally, brand share in the alternative powertrain market shifted this year. With Toyota typically being the front runner, Tesla now takes that title with 29.3 percent market share. Rounding out the Top 5 California brands for hybrid, plug in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles were Toyota, Chevrolet, Honda and Ford.

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 at:


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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