Auto sales speed up in California
May 16, 2017
• State pulls ahead of national sales average
• “This beats the slowdown in national sales”
California’s new motor vehicle market remains strong with over 2 million vehicles expected to be sold in the Golden State this year, dealers say.
That’s shown by the sales pace in the first quarter, the industry says. In the first three months of the year, California new vehicle sales grew nearly 1 percent while sales nationally declined 1.4 percent, according to the California New Car Dealers Association.
“2017 has seen slower growth in California car and truck sales, but this beats the slowdown in national sales,” says California New Car Dealers Association Chairman Cheryl Bedford, of Sunset Auto Center in Lompoc. “California is a large and diverse market: Our customers bought 5.5 percent more light trucks this quarter compared with one year ago, but at the same time 4.8 percent of all new vehicles registered January through March were zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and plug in hybrids, an all-time record.”
So far in 2017, the small SUV segment has been the fastest growing in the state, while the mid-size and large car market has declined the most.
The electric vehicle market share climbed to 2.7 percent during the first quarter, driven largely by the emergence of the Chevy Bolt which entered the top 5 in subcompacts sold in the state. Overall ZEVs and plugs-ins equaled 4.8 percent of the state’s new vehicle sales. Of those alternatively powered vehicles, 80 percent were sold by franchised new car dealers, the association says.
With relatively low fuel prices, light truck registrations led the way in driving overall sales up 0.7 percent during this year’s first calendar quarter, with that sector increasing 13.2 percent from 2016 to 2017. Despite that growth, new light truck registrations still represent less than 50 percent of the new car market in California, compared with 63 percent nationally.
The Honda Civic was the top selling car during the first quarter of 2017, retaining the lead it held in all of 2016.