California’s electric vehicle (EV) market share hit a new high in the first quarter, reaching 19.5% of all new car sales in the state in the first three months of the year. Continuing to lead the way were the Tesla Model Y and Model 3, both of which were California’s top selling cars in Q1 2023.
According to the quarterly update from the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA), there were a total of 87,525 battery electric vehicle (BEV) sales in the state in Q1, representing 19.5% of all new car sales in the state. That is a new record for California, growing from the 17.1% BEV market share in 2022. While it is only a 2.4% increase from the previous year, it is more than double the 9.5% BEV market share from 2021. This has allowed BEVs to separate themselves from plug-in hybrids, which have moved almost in tandem since 2018 and are often included in metrics as counting towards EV sales.
Continuing its dominance in the California market, Tesla was the leader in not only BEV sales, but also overall car sales. The Model Y was the best selling vehicle in California in Q1 with 31,940 registrations, or 10.3% of the light truck segment. Not content with holding the #1 spot, Tesla also took second place with the Model 3 amassing 17,715 registrations in the same time period. That figure was also good enough to make the Model 3 the best selling passenger car in the state in Q1.
The closest competitors were the Toyota Camry (13,929), Toyota RAV4 (13,326), Ford F-Series (12,955), Honda Civic (10,375), and Toyota Corolla (10,100).
With the strong start to the year the Model Y is on track to easily beat its record from 2022, when it was the best selling car in the state with 87,257 registrations. If Tesla is able to keep up the pace from the first three months of the year, the automaker could sell nearly 130,000 Model Ys in California in 2023.
When looking at overall sales by brand, Tesla sits in the number two spot with 11.8% market share, behind only Toyota which had 15.2% market share in the first quarter. This result is not too surprising when you consider the limited number of segments Tesla participates in with their four vehicles, only two of which are high volume. Rounding out the top five brands in California in Q1 are Ford (8.9%, Honda (8.7%), and Chevrolet (7.7%). One surprising stat from the CNCDA report is that Tesla’s registrations grew only 10.6% from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023, a figure well below the 50%+ growth the automaker was seeing last year while most other automakers were seeing overall declines. This puts Tesla near the middle of the pack in Q1 2023, behind the leader Chevrolet which saw its registrations jump 47.1%.