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California New Car Dealers Association Releases Fourth Quarter Auto Outlook

Supply Restrictions Stall Automotive Market Recovery

Electric Vehicles and Hybrids Continue to Capture Market Share Despite Slowed Sales

SACRAMENTO, CA – After a year of slowed sales as a direct result of economic crisis brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 showed extremely positive signs of improvement with automotive sales rebounding over the first three quarters of the year. By the end of last year, pre-pandemic levels of demand had returned; supply had not.

Supply bottlenecks attributed to logistics challenges and a global microchip shortage prevented auto sales from reaching the 2-million-unit mark, with a final year-end total of 1.86 units sold. While still a strong improvement over 2020 numbers, sales were still more than a quarter-of-a-million units fewer than 2019 numbers. In a market normally limited by consumer demand, supply limitations have placed an unprecedented squeeze on both dealers and consumers.

“The ongoing microchip shortage has created an entirely new set of challenges for car dealerships and our customers. The struggle to provide the vehicles our customers want has brought fierce competition between dealers,” said California New Car Dealers Association Chairman, John Oh, of Lexus of Westminster. “Despite this challenge, consumers can take advantage of these competitive times. California’s network of 1,400 new car dealers allows for customers willing to wait a little longer, open to expanding their model selection, or looking beyond their closest dealerships to still find the vehicles they desire.”

Major Trends at a Glance

Despite trends across the industry, electric vehicles continued a strong year, reaching a nearly 10% market share, up 3.3% over 2020. Moreover, as automakers continue to offer new, alternative drivetrains to their lineups, sales of hybrid and plug-in hybrids have similarly increased their market shares, with combined alternative drive trains making up 23.4% of all auto sales in 2021.

In addition to EVs and hybrids, SUVs and trucks also continued their market dominance, increasing a collective 4% in market share, making up 64% of retail sales.

Regardless of current inventory issues, consumer demand for new vehicles remains high and automakers have expressed their intent to close the gap in the market as quickly as possible. With a restoration of supply expected some time this year, and demand trends remaining high, 2022 estimates are still on track to near 2 million units.

The full Q4 California Auto Outlook, containing a detailed breakdown of auto sales, including brand comparisons, segment totals, and more, can be found by clicking here.


California Auto Outlook, 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: Experian.


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 2019 and employed 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 1,300 members—CNCDA serves its members by providing legal compliance and legislative, regulatory, and legal advocacy. 

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