The Toyota Prius hybrid line has surpassed Honda's Civic and Accord models to become the best-selling vehicle in California. This, of course, became a near-world-ending surprise to the rest of the world, who were certain that the best-selling vehicle in Cali had to be an SUV.
The California New Car Dealers Association released its California Auto Outlook report this week, saying that Californians bought 46,380 Prius models in the first nine months of the year, far surpassing the former best-sellers from Honda as well as Toyota's other top-seller, the Camry.
The report also shows that despite the exclusive gas-crunch that Golden State residents are braving - with prices jumping over five dollars a gallon in news headline bold print - California residents are buying new vehicles with abandon, with registrations up 26 percent in the state. That's more than ten percent higher than the national average of 14.5 percent for light vehicle sales.
Analysts and various experts are making commentary on the rise of the Prius as the top California car, usually crediting high gasoline prices as the reason more and more people are adopting the hybrid as their vehicle of choice. Current national vehicle sales show that California accounts for about 25 percent of the Prius models sold nationally. This includes all liftbacks, v, c, and plug-ins by volume - about 183,340 total sales this year.
Nationally, however, the Prius is the12th-best selling vehicle according to Autodata Corp. and 7th by model line. The Ford F-series is tops on both counts and the Camry is the best-selling car.
So the next time you're in California and every third car idling on the parking lot freeway is a Prius, you'll know that the car is, for all intents and purposes, the unrecognized State Car of California. It should also be noted that Cali sports the highest state-level gasoline tax in the nation at 35.3 cents per gallon. Prices are expected to continue rising as, beginning January 1, new Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) rules will take effect in California, raising costs by as much as $1 per gallon on gasoline in the state (and nearly double that for diesel).