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California New Vehicle Sales Remained Above 2 Million Units in 2018

Contact: Jenny Dudikoff
Phone: 916-441-2599

SACRAMENTO, CA – California new vehicle sales closed out 2018 as expected, with more than 2 million units sold statewide. While market conditions continue to shift both on the state level and nationally, 2018 California vehicle sales remain well above average. According to the California Auto Outlook Fourth Quarter 2018, market share for passenger cars continues to decline, while light truck sales continue to increase.

While there was a slight decline, 2018 proved to be another successful year for California new car dealers and their customers,” said California New Car Dealers Association Chairperson, Ted Nicholas of Three-Way Chevrolet. “The trends we are seeing in California regarding an increase in demand for larger vehicles, continues to demonstrate the shift in customer attitude around convenience, affordability, and consumer choice to meet transportation needs. As this shift continues, we can expect to see manufacturers increasing their supply and options of larger, more family friendly vehicles. While industry analysts have projected an additional decline in the seasonally adjusted annual rate (SAAR) for this year, we remain optimistic that 2019 will be successful.”

California light truck sales saw an increase of 5.1 percent from 2017 to 2018, with market share up 3.9 percent. This mirrors trends that took place on the national level where light truck sales increased by 6.9 percent in 2018. Passenger car sales experienced a decrease of 10 percent from 2017 to 2018, with market share down 3.9 percent. This trend was also reflected in various regions of the state, with Southern California seeing an increase in light truck sales by 5.3 percent and a decrease in passenger car sales by 11.2 percent from 2017. Northern California’s shifts were less severe, with light truck sales up by 2.2 percent and passenger car sales down by 6.4 percent.

2018 experienced a noteworthy increase in electric vehicle sales, with hybrids and electric vehicles making up 12 percent of the total market share. Most prominent in the space was an increase in the electric vehicle market share from 2.6 percent in 2017 to 4.7 percent in 2018.

Additionally, the Honda Civic was the best-selling model in California for 2018, while the Toyota Camry came in second.  However, Toyota remained the California market leader while Ford took home that title nationally.

The California Auto Outlook Fourth Quarter 2018 Market Report provides comprehensive information on the state’s new vehicle market. The report includes: a segment watch, including the top five models in each segment; a market perspective, comparing California nationally; brand scoreboards; a five-year sales trend comparison and more. The complete report can be accessed on CNCDA’s website at:


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: 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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