Across the US, sales of small cars have plummeted, yet sales of electric cars continue to increase, accounting for five percent of the market so far in 2019. This trend is most apparent in the Golden State, where the California New Car Dealers Association in its quarterly report reveals that although sales of cars – not including SUVs and pickups – have slipped in the first half of 2019, sales of electric cars have rocketed from 3.3 percent of the market in the first half of 2018 to 5.6 percent so far in 2019.
The trend has been spearheaded by Tesla, which is based in Palo Alto, California. In fact, the company is the only automaker that registered a sales increase of more than a fraction of a percent, gaining 10 times that of almost any other car manufacturer. In total, sales of electric cars increased from 33,015 last year to 52,087 this year. Although those figures aren’t mind-boggling, electric car sales are chipping away at the market share of other types of cars.
In California, where small cars have long been favored due to long commutes and high gas prices, the market share of fuel-efficient small cars is down four percent, from 23 percent to 19, according to CNADA. Sales of plug-in hybrids fell from 29,622 to 21,193, which represents a drop from 2.9 to 2.2 percent of the local market. Although Hyundai, Kia and Mercedes-Benz have debuted new hybrid models, the drop is likely linked to GM’s decision to halt production of the Chevy Volt, which was a top-selling plug-in hybrid.
Plug-in cars account for 7.8 percent of the market in California, with the share tilting toward all-electric models rather than plug-in hybrids. Since 2013, sales of conventional hybrids have consistently decreased, however, in the first half of 2019, there was a slight upturn from 40,011 to 48,861, which is 5.2 percent of the market. In part, that’s due to the new crop of SUVs with hybrid systems like the Toyota RAV4 Hybrid, as well as, some buyers selecting other models since the Volt was discontinued. Ford does plan to introduce a hybrid version of the best-selling Ford Explorer this fall.
Experts believe that what happens in California is an indication of what’s to come elsewhere. Although across the US, electric cars and plug-in hybrids are still lagging in sales compared to California, with about two percent of total sales nationally, the latest news from the Golden State indicates that a change is on the horizon.