New-vehicle sales in the state of California fell at a faster rate than the national average in the first quarter.


Sales were off 7% as the state’s weakening housing market crimped consumer spending, the California Motor Car Dealers Association told the Los Angeles Times (LAT).


Economists told the paper the fact that new vehicle registrations in California suffered a much bigger drop than the national decline of 1.2% indicates how hard the state has been hit by the housing crunch. High petrol prices and troubles in the sub-prime lending industry also are hurting sales.


Despite the drop in new-vehicle registrations, Toyota Motor increased its industry leading market share in California by two percentage points to 24%. Among vehicle segments, compact SUVs such as the Honda CRV and entry-level cars such as the Toyota Yaris showed the biggest gains. Full- and mid-sized SUVs recorded the biggest drops, according to the LAT.