Electric vehicles are making inroads in San Diego County.
Roughly one in every eight new vehicles sold in the region during the third quarter was electric or hybrid. That is according to data from IHS Markit, collected by the New Car Dealers Association San Diego County.
Tesla in particular is enjoying sales — and 277 percent growth from last year. Drivers registered an estimated 3,682 Teslas in San Diego County during the first nine months of 2018, up from 977 in the first nine months of 2017. The Model 3 had the best sales, followed by the Model S, according to the association’s most recent report.
All-electric cars gained in popularity, going from about 2.5 percent market share in the third quarter of 2017 to about 5 percent market share in the same period this year. The data also show that in the middle of 2018, all-electric cars got more popular than hybrid autos. Hybrids had less than 5 percent market share in the most recently ended quarter.
Toyotas Outsell the Rest
Year to date, the bestselling brands in San Diego County have been Toyota, with 19,970 registered, followed by Honda, with 14,212 registered.
Toyota and Honda also had the distinction of being brands that are selling better in San Diego than in the rest of the United States. Toyota had 17.7 percent of the market share for new light vehicles in the first nine months of 2018, while it had 13.5 percent market share in the nation. Honda had 12.6 percent of the market share in San Diego and 10.2 percent in the nation.
BMW, Tesla and Mazda also sold better in San Diego County than the rest of the country.
Chevrolet faces the opposite situation: It is more popular in the heartland and the rest of the country than it is in San Diego County. Some 10.9 percent of new car sales in the United States were Chevys, though in San Diego, the brand caught only 6 percent of the sales during the first nine months of 2018.
Roll Them Off the Lot
New cars continue to sell in San Diego, though not quite as well as during the peak year of 2016.
It seems sales have “plateaued” or are declining slightly, said Richard Newendyke, executive manager at Kearny Mesa Infiniti. Rising interest rates and recent stock market volatility may be causing would-be buyers to think twice, he said.
By the time 2018 ends, the association expects 150,250 new car and light truck registrations in San Diego County, down 4.3 percent from 2017. The peak year for new light vehicle registrations was 2016, with 162,239.
The flat or downward trend is likely to continue in 2019, Newendyke said.
Used cars get a little more love in San Diego than new cars.
Some 218,025 used cars were registered in San Diego County in the first eight months of 2018, down 1 percent from 220,303 in the same period of 2017.
“Certified pre-owned cars now have pretty good warranties,” Newendyke said.
The Honda Civic is the top seller among used cars, followed by Toyota Corolla and Toyota Camry.
Though not the top-selling model, there was quite a market in used Nissan Rogues; the sport utility vehicle had almost 50 percent greater registrations in the first eight months of 2018 than it did in the same period of 2017.
The dealers’ association report said used vehicle supplies are rising, which will lead to a decline in used vehicle prices. Also threatening to put a drag on new vehicle sales are rising interest rates — and higher monthly payments.
Then again, report authors said, increased consumer confidence and household net worth may drive more people to the new car showroom. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index stands at its highest level since 2011, when the country was coming out of recession.