California EV sales top 20% through Q3, with Tesla's Model Y leading the way

Electric vehicle sales and demand might be stalling in parts of the US, but don’t tell that to California.

The California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) reported that through the first nine months of the year pure battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales accounted for 21.5% and were 22.3% in Q3. A year ago the figure stood at 16.4% year to date and was only 9.1% in 2021.

When hybrid and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are included with BEVs, the figure jumps up 35.4% for all vehicles sold year to date in California. Not surprisingly this means gas-powered sales are falling in the state, with the CNCDA reporting ICE market share (including gasoline and diesel vehicles) was 64.6% so far this year, down from 71.6% in 2022 and 88.4% in 2018.

California is known as the vanguard for automotive trends in the country, with shifts in preferences and government policy eventually spreading to the rest of the country. While the state’s BEV share hits over one-fifth of vehicles year to date, overall in the US the figure stands at 7.4%. Note that California’s regulatory agencies have banned the sale of gas-powered vehicles starting in 2035.

CNCDA's breakdown of car sales and associated powertrain thus far through 2023 (credit: CNCDA)

CNCDA’s breakdown of car sales and associated powertrain thus far through 2023 (credit: CNCDA) (CNCDA)

Not surprisingly, when digging deeper into the sales data Tesla’s (TSLA) Model Y and Model 3 dominate BEV sales in the state, at 103,398 and 66,698 respectively, with Tesla’s overall market share of BEV sales hitting 62.9%. In fact the Tesla Model Y was the top-selling vehicle overall in California, followed by the Model 3 and the Toyota (TM) RAV4 (40,622) and Toyota Camry (39,293).

While good news for Tesla, its overall market share has slipped from 71.8% YTD last year. BEVs from brands like Chevrolet, BMW, Mercedes, and Hyundai have been slowly eating into Tesla’s market share.

Overall in the state, Toyota is the sales king with 15% of overall sales, followed by Tesla at 13.5% share. Interestingly in Q2 Tesla narrowly edged out Toyota for top sales in the state, before sales swung back to Toyota in Q3.

That being said, Tesla’s sales in the state climbed by 38.5% year to date, while Toyota’s actually shrunk by 0.7%. Time will tell if Tesla popularity with the state’s car buyers improves and it can overtake Toyota for the 2023 crown, or if other EV makers can offer better products at better prices to lure California’s EV-hungry buyers from Tesla’s draw.

Pras Subramanian is a reporter for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter and on Instagram.

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