TodayApril 15, 2022

As if 2020 couldn’t get any worse! California

California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA)

Bestsellers in primary segments:

Compact Car: Honda Civic
Full-Size Pickup: Ford F-Series
Mid Size Car: Toyota Camry
Compact SUV: Toyota RAV4
Near-Luxury Car: Tesla Model 3
Mid Size SUV: Toyota Highlander
Luxury Car: Mercedes E-Class
Luxury Mid Size SUV: Lexus RX

california 2008 thru 2021

california 2008 thru 2021

We know that sales nationwide will be waaaayyy down from 2019 due to the Coronavirus. And if that is not enough the fires have started, a person has gotten the plague, and well, 2020 can’t end fast enough.

How anyone didn’t see car sales declining is beyond me. Covid-19 brought the nation to a screeching halt. Literally. All of a sudden I could see past Sacramento, past Mount Diablo, there was no haze in the Valley. We’ve heard those same stories of clean air from around the world. The air was clear because no one was driving. While that is a wonderful by-product, the reality is our economy was hit.

California was one of the first states to shut down, so it has seen its car sales numbers drop. Both new and used vehicle sales took a tremendous hit during the early months of 2020. The fall was sharp, with an unprecedented sales decline not seen since the Great Recession.

According to the California Auto Outlook Second Quarter 2020, anticipated new vehicle sales are projected to reach 1.63 million in 2020, a 22 percent decline from 2019, and exceed 1.8 million next year.

“This year is unprecedented in so many ways. For dealerships across California, it started with the abrupt changes in vehicle sales. The first four months of the year were some of the lowest points the industry has seen in quite some time, and we are just beginning to find our way out with the hope that the worst is behind us. We see the results of pent-up consumer demand but are trying to balance that with low inventory,” said California New Car Dealers Association Chairperson, Mark Normandin, owner of Normandin Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram FIAT. “As dealerships look to run their businesses with additional emphasis on health and safety for consumers and employees, we are ready and eager to offer the same value we did pre-COVID, but we are watching whether consumer confidence returns to pre-COVID-19 levels. 2020 has been a long and trying road, but we will continue to do what it takes to move forward in a safe, healthy, and prudent manner.”

What does the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) have to say about the first half of 2020?

New and Used Sales

While COVID-19 and its impacts on the economy have taken a significant toll on all vehicle sales, used vehicle sales are performing better than new vehicles, experiencing a drop of 14.5 percent compared to the new vehicle market at a 26.9 percent decline. For a national comparison, the U.S. market is down in new vehicle sales by 23.5 percent.

Passenger Cars vs. Light Trucks

Light trucks continue to outperform passenger cars, experiencing a 20.5 percent decline in the first half of the year versus a 35.6 percent drop for passenger cars. However, the light truck market share in California remains lower than that of the rest of the nation, holding 62.5 percent market share in the Golden State compared to 75 percent market share nationwide.



Alternative Powertrains

The electric and hybrid vehicle market continues to grow, showing a slight increase from the first half of 2019, from 13.2 percent to 13.4 percent for the first half of 2020.

Model and Brand Rankings

During the second quarter of 2020, the Honda Civic regained its top spot as California’s best seller in the new vehicle market, with Toyota, Honda, and Ford as the top brand leaders in the state. Toyota also holds the number one spot for the best-selling non-luxury SUV brand and the best-selling brand in six-year-old or newer used vehicle market, with a 13 percent market share.

Regional Variances

Regional variances between Northern California and Southern California are trending with the overall state and national declines, with Northern California experiencing a slightly higher incidence of decline.

The north saw a decline of 31.6 percent in passenger car sales and a 16.5 percent decline in light truck sales, with the southern portion doing only slightly better with a decrease in passenger car sales of 29.5 percent and a decline in light trucks sales of 15.7 percent.

New Retail Light Vehicle Registrations

New Retail Light Vehicle Registrations

Top Sellers in California

Toyota, Honda, Ford, Chevrolet, and Nissan were market share leaders in California.

State Retail Registrations Declined 22.3 Percent in First Half of ‘20 vs. 41.1 Percent Drop for Fleets.


Cars – DOWN 31.6%
Light trucks – DOWN 16.5%


Cars – DOWN 29.8%
Light trucks – DOWN 15.7%

Top 15 Selling Brands in California

Top 15 Selling Brands in California

Toyota is Top Selling Non-Luxury SUV Brand


Used vehicle registrations in California declined 14.4 percent in the first half of ‘20, better than the 26.9 percent drop for new vehicles.
2. The nearly new used vehicle market (3 years old or newer) declined faster than older vehicles.
3. The used vehicle market has been given a boost by sparse new vehicle inventories and cost-conscious consumers. The used vehicle market should remain relatively strong for the remainder of 2020.

Toyota Is Best-Selling Brand in Six Year Old Or Newer Used Vehicle Market

With half the year gone the California dealer Association is predicting an eleven percent increase for 2021.

Shhh…don’t say that too loudly. A major earthquake is still on the Bingo card, and I don’t want to jinx 2021.

Lou Ann Hammond

Lou Ann Hammond is the CEO of Carlist and Driving the Nation. She is the co-host of Real Wheels Washington Post carchat every Friday morning and is the Automotive, energy correspondent for The John Batchelor Show and a Contributor to Automotive Electronics magazine headquartered in Korea. Hammond is a founding member of the Women's World Car of the Year #WWCOTY, and board member of the Women in Automotive.

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