EV sales are still booming in California—and they continued to capture an even larger piece of the market in 2023. 

Although there was a slight downturn in the market share of EVs toward the end of 2023, EVs finished the year up 5% in market share in the Golden State versus 2022. 

Looking at all of 2023, BEVs added up to 21.4% of the market in California while they amounted to 7.5% for the U.S. as a whole—and 33.8% of U.S. EV sales are in California.

California New Car Dealers Association, Q4 2023 – data from Experian Automotive

The update, coming from the California New Car Dealers Association, in a report out last week citing Experian Automotive data, notes that EV sales from franchised dealerships were up 94% from 2022 to 2023, while direct sellers posted a 29% rise. 

“This helps further demonstrate that Californians are interested in purchasing new BEV model rollouts from the mainstay manufacturers that they know and trust,” the dealer association said. It also, of course, highlights the onslaught of new fully electric products that arrived at dealerships in much greater numbers over the course of 2023, covering a much wider variety of vehicle types. 

It’s also hard to argue, from any of the provided overarching data, that non-electrified vehicles are on the rebound. As the group underscores, non-hybrid ICE models accounted for just 63.9% of sales in 2023, down from 71.6% in 2022 and 88.4% in 2018. 

2023 Tesla Model Y - Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

2023 Tesla Model Y – Courtesy of Tesla, Inc.

According to the group, the top three cars sold in the state in 2023 were the Tesla Model 3, Toyota Camry, and Honda Civic, while the top three light trucks sold in the state were the Tesla Model Y, Toyota RAV4, and Honda CR-V. 

It was once again a market very much weighted to Tesla. The Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model Y together added up to more than 215,000 sales in the state in 2023. That’s nearly one in eight vehicles sold in the state, electric or not. 

Or, to calculate Tesla’s importance in California, and California’s importance to Tesla another way, 12% of Tesla EVs sold globally—or nearly one in eight—were delivered in California. 

2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime preview

2024 Toyota RAV4 Prime preview

For every one Toyota RAV4 SUVs that are sold in the state—Toyota’s top California seller, including the plug-in hybrid RAV4 Prime—more than 18 Model Ys were sold. That said, Toyota has many more models, and it managed to hold its position as the top-selling brand in California in 2023. 

Q4 2023 marked the fourth consecutive increase in new car sales as a whole, while registrations of EVs have been down the past two quarters, from a peak of 102,991 new electric registrations in the state in Q2 2023. 

Plug-in hybrids finished the year up very slightly in absolute sales, while non-plug-in hybrids reached a record 13.3% of the market. In all within a rounding error, as we reported last summer 25% of new California vehicles have a charge port. 

Lucid Air range test video - Richmond San Rafael Bridge

Lucid Air range test video – Richmond San Rafael Bridge

Some analysts both before and after these results connected the lull in EV growth to hesitance over the federal EV tax credit, which will be offered as a point-of-sale rebate to a growing number of models, as they pass muster with tighter new sourcing rules and as dealerships apply to do so. 

Whether or not that’s the case, it won’t be completely clear until Q1 results arrive in April as to whether this is a hiccup or a more pronounced trend holding back EV adoption.