The year 2019 was challenging for plug-ins in California. 2020 might be better, but a lot depends on the Tesla Model Y ramp-up.

New car sales in California over 12 months of 2019 shrunk by 5.5% year-over-year to 1.89 million and the perspective for 2020 is even worse - like 1.82 million.

We would normally add here that fortunately, the plug-in segment is expanding, but that's actually not the case.

According to the California New Car Dealers Association, sales of plug-ins (during Q1-Q4) went down by 7.5% year-over-year to 145,864, which is 7.7% of the total market. The overall share of all xEVs (HEVs, PHEVs, BEVs) is 13.2%.

  • BEVs: 99,704 (market share of 5.3%), up 5.2% from 94,801
  • PHEVs: 46,160 (market share of 2.4%), down 26.6% from 62,847
  • Total: 145,864 (market share of 7.7%), down 7.5% from 157,648
  • HEVs: 104,702 (market share of 5.5%), up 24.2% from 84,322
  • Total xEVs: 250,566 (market share of 13.2%), up 3.6% from 241,970

Plug-in electric car sales in California - Q1-Q4 2019

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There are two reasons why plug-in sales in California decreased in 2019. The first are plug-in hybrids (down 26.6%), while the second is a high base in Q4 2018 when Tesla Model 3 sales were at its peak after the ramp-up phase (Tesla sales in Q4 2019 decreased by 46.1% to 13,999).

Tesla sales in 2019 improved by 3.3% year-over-year to 72,625 and 3.8% market share (California).

Other than that, the plug-in market does not look bad. The BEV ratio in the plug-in segment improved from 60% to 68% and there are new models on the horizon for 2020.

Several BEVs were in the top 5 of their respective classes:

The Tesla Model 3 is the #3 best-selling car model (excl. trucks/SUVs)!

  1. Honda Civic - 75,915
  2. Toyota Camry - 63,459
  3. Tesla Model 3 - 59,514
  4. Honda Accord - 58,310
  5. Toyota Corolla - 54,186
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Source: California New Car Dealers Association - Auto Outlook: 2019 Q4