By on August 19, 2013

After travelling the world, we come back to California today to check out which cars are the most popular here.

And I’ve got one word for you: Japan, Japan, Japan.

California too close for comfort? That’s ok because you can check out new car sales data for 176 additional countries and territories on my blog. Go on, you know you want to!

For the detail of what sells and what doesn’t in California, jump in below!

Toyota Prius C. Picture courtesy of www.motortrend.comThe Toyota Prius is one of 3 Toyotas in the Californian Top 5 over the period.

New car sales in California continue to outpace the US market overall, up a fantastic 12% year-on-year (vs. +8% overall in the US) both over the 2nd Quarter of 2013 at 447,054 registrations and year-to-date at 850,712 units. Like in the country as a whole, Californian sales are pulled up by light pick-up trucks (+17%) while domestic brands (+21%) fare better than the Japanese (+10%).

The Passenger Car market share in California is 63% vs. 51% overall in the US, domestic brands account for just 29% of sales vs. 46% in the US and Japanese brands are at 48% in California vs. 37% overall. The Toyota Prius remains the best-selling ‘model’ in the state at 18,326 sales and 4.1% over Q2 and 33,987 year-to-date, however this figure include both Prius C and Prius V which skews the results.

BMW 3 Series. Picture courtesy of www.motortrend.comThe BMW 3 Series is among the Top 10 most popular cars in California.

The most popular ‘single’ model is in fact the Honda Civic at 16,880 sales in Q2 and 31,798 year-to-date, passing the Honda Accord at 16,207 and 31,576. The Toyota Camry ranks 4th at 15,007 units, ahead of the Toyota Corolla at 12,334. Notice also the BMW 3 Series up from outside the Top 15 over Q1 to #10 with 7,430 sales, the Hyundai Elantra up to #12 with an estimated 6,800 units, the Toyota RAV4 up to #14 and the Mercedes C-Class up to #15.

You can check out the Top 15 best-selling models in California over the 2nd quarter of 2013 here, as well as sales for a few additional models.

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11 Comments on “Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: California dreaming of Japan...”


  • avatar
    jimmyy

    Living on both coasts, a few observations. First, I do see a few Fusions on the 405 ( LA/OC ), but most appear to have rental bar codes on them. Are those included in this count placing Fusion 11th? Also, is this a Ford strategy to get Fusion on California roads? Also, same in NYC. Secondly, I see very very few Escapses on either place. All of this seems to run counter to Ford claims that Fusion and Escape are big sellers on the coasts. Not what I am seeing.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I see lots of Escapes around San Diego. Most of them don’t look like rentals too. I agree with you that the vast majority of California Fusions are rental cars though. I think their rental frequency has hit critical mass. Does anyone want a car that screams rental? The cars I see my fellow commuters driving are Japanese, German, or Korean. There are lots of American trucks around, if not as many as anywhere else in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        adamsd

        I agree with this comment for SD – most of the American sold vehicles all seem to be mostly in the SUV/truck category. Very few sedans seen that are American.

    • 0 avatar
      adamsd

      I have seen a few amount of Escapes here in San Diego, which is kind of surprising considering that I consider it one of the ugliest SUVs on the road now with the latest makeover. I can’t believe that passed snuff at Ford, but I am sure there are people who like it’s styling…

  • avatar

    There are no Sonatas, Jettas, Passats and Cruzes in CA? I see lot of them in Bay Area not as many as BMW 5-series (just kidding, but still) but at least more than Fusions. More Teslas than Audi 4? Is this list correct?

  • avatar
    George Herbert

    Curious; I see about a 50:50 mix of Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ within that “type”; they only record the BRZ in that survey. So, is my eyeball guess around the SF Bay Area of about parity in sales right, or are Subarus really winning that sales war there?

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Toyota’s Prius hybrids are riding for a fall. imo. I noticed in their very sweet little commercial that regular gas was selling for $4.19 USD per US gallon with the subtle implication that gas prices were rising.

    Nice fantasy for some, but in the real California world of right now, regular gas averages $3.81 USD per US gallon, and that price has fallen almost 30 cents per gallon over the past year. The average price for regular gas in the USA is $3.57 USD per US gallon. In Texas, recently I have been paying $3.30 USD per US gallon.

    The main cause, imo, is greatly increased US crude oil and NGL production from an entirely new mining technique colloquially referred to as “fracking”. A sluggish European economy, and slower motor vehicle growth in China, India and elsewhere are probably factors as well.

    Crude oil production in Texas has exploded from 1 mmbbl/d to 2.5 mmbbl/d over the past 18-24 months. Bakken shale production in North Dakota has gone from almost zero to 0.8 mmbbl/d over the same period. Both are still headed straight north with no end in sight unless crude oil prices fall considerably. To put this in perspective, global crude oil production is around 65 mmbbl/d.

    The long-term potential from “fracking” is enormous. Oil and gas prices are headed nowhere but down for as far as the eye can see. Just how far down remains to be seen. In general, this ought to be very good for the motor vehicle industry, but bets on the heavily subsidized hybrids and EV’s don’t look so hot.

    • 0 avatar
      adamsd

      So if you are in Texas, you wouldn’t have noticed the fact that it was over $4 in California until just about 2 weeks ago; before that it has been over $4 for most of the summer so far. It just very recently in the last two weeks dropped more significantly.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    My last trip to El Centro, two of every three vehicles was a Ford F150 or a Ram, with a few Silverados rounding out that two out of three. They weren’t all 2013/2014 models though, that’s the downside of observing what’s on the street. Matt’s using new car registrations statewide, the best way to spot the latest trends in new car sales. California IS a big state.


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