Blog: Graeme RobertsCalifornia as viewed by a Californian

Graeme Roberts | 28 November 2012

California is a Golden State for automakers

California is a Golden State for automakers

Coinciding with the LA show press day on Wednesday, Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Santa Monica based Edmunds.com, explains how most of the auto industry views the Golden State: "For automakers, California is the promised land.

"You have the vanity buyers in Los Angeles, the green buyers in San Francisco, the tech gurus in Silicon Valley, and the active-lifestyle buyers in San Diego. And this doesn't include buyers in the farmland of the Central Valley, whose needs are completely different. In short, there is a buyer for everything in one state."

Her fact list:

  • More new car purchases are made in California than anywhere else in the US. About 11% of all new cars in the US were registered in California this year. (Texas is ranked second at 9.6%).
  • About 32% of all new electric vehicles and 24.7% of all new hybrid vehicles sold so far in the US this year were registered in California. This puts the state first in both EV and hybrid sales. (Florida finished a very distant second at 6.6% in both categories).
  • California overwhelmingly skews toward import brands. Foreign automakers account for eight of the top 10 brands sold in California this year. Toyota (18.9%) and Honda (13.8%) own the two largest market shares in the state (compared to their No. 3 and No. 4 rankings nationally). The top domestic brand in California is Ford (ranked No. 3 at 8.4%).
  • The most popular car in California is the Honda Civic, which has accounted for 4.4% of all new car registrations in the state so far this year. The Honda Accord and Toyota Camry come in second and third respectively, at around 3.9% each. The top-selling truck is the Ford F-Series with a 1.8% market share that ranks eighth in the state overall.
  • Civic (4.5%%), Accord (4.5%) and Camry (4.1%) also rank No. 1, 2 and 3 in the Los Angeles market so far this year. The top truck is the Toyota Tacoma, with 1.5% of the market share, ranking 13th in LA overall.
  • In 2011, Californians placed a higher average down payment (17.76%) on new cars than buyers in any other state. New Jersey (13.28%) placed a distant second. The national down-payment average was 11.06%.
  • The average transaction price for a new car in California in 2011 was US$28,939, ranking the state as No. 36 overall (the national average price was $29,509; Wyoming sat at the top of the list at $38,085 and Hawaii was #50 at $27,570).
  • Californians paid an average loan interest rate of 4.1% on new car purchases in 2011, putting them at No. 17 in the nation, just below the national average annual percentage rate of 4.4 (Massachusetts was #1 at 3.5% and Louisiana was last at 5.3%).


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