Best Selling Cars in California 2023: Tesla Leads in Sales and Recalls

Best Selling Cars 2023 California Table of Contents

Top Selling Cars in California Key Takeaways

The best selling car in California in 2023 is the Tesla Model 3. It has overtaken Toyota as the best-selling carmaker in California.

The Tesla Model Y and Model 3 are particularly popular, leading the market in sales, followed by traditional favorites like the Toyota Camry and RAV4.

New Car sales continue to rise as recalls continue to plague these brands.

2023 was the year of the EV, most notably Tesla models dominating the California new vehicle market. That also came with an unprecedented number of recalls issued by the NHTSA.

Other vehicle manufacturers that are winners in the state includes Honda with their Honda Civic being the top small car sold and the Toyota Camry as the top selling midsize car. 

Below, we review the key highlights and trends of Califonia automotive sales in 2023 per the Car Dealers Association, offering an in-depth analysis of the most successful models and what makes them stand out.

We will also take a look at which best-selling models had recalls in 2023. Let’s dive in. 

Top Selling Cars in California

Top Selling Cars in California 2023: EVs Finish on Top

The third quarter 2023 Auto Outlook report by the California New Car Dealers Association (CNCDA) reveals a 14.3% increase in new vehicle registrations in California compared to the first nine months of 2022.

The forecast for California is that the state will end the year with 1.8 million new vehicle registrations, increasing to 1.88 million in 2024 per the New Car Dealers Association.

New battery electric vehicles (BEV) and plug-in hybrid (PHEV) sales both saw an increase in 2023.

BEV market share rose to 21.5%, with Tesla Model Y, Tesla Model 3, and the Chevy Bolt as top-selling models.

Traditional automakers refuse to fall behind and are gaining ground in BEV sales, challenging Tesla’s market share.

California is still the leader in BEV registrations nationwide, with nearly 35% of all sales. That trend does not look to slowdown in 2024 either.

California Best Sellers Per Category

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20 vehicle categories are tracked year-round in California via Experian Automotive. For the first 9 months of 2023, the best selling car in California per category according to California new car dealers is:

🚗 Small Cars: The best selling Honda Civic with 21.9% market share.

🚗 Mid Size/Large Cars: Toyota Camry with 37.9% market share.

🚗 Sports Cars: Ford Mustang with 31.8% market share.

🚗 Near Luxury Cars: Tesla Model 3 with 53.2 market share.

🚗 Luxury and High-End Sports Cars: BMW 5-Series with 12.9% market share.

🚙 Compact/Mid Size Pickup: Toyota Tacoma with 48.6% share

🚙 Full Size Pickup: Ford F-Series with 30.1% share.

🚙 Minivan: Toyota Sienna with 33.8% share.

🚙 Large Van: Ford Transit Connect with 35.5% share.

🚙 Subcompact SUV: Honda HR-V with 17.5% share.

🚙 Compact SUV: Toyota Rav4 with 20.3% share.

🚙 2 Row Mid Size SUV: Subaru Outback with 21.5% share.

🚙 3 Row Mid Size SUV: Toyota Highlander with 18.8% share.

🚙 Large SUV: Ford Bronco with 31.2% share.

🚙 Luxury Subcompact SUV: Audi Q3 with 16.4% share.

🚙 Luxury Compact SUV: Tesla Model Y with 66.8% share.

🚙 Luxury Mid Size SUV: Lexus RX with 18% share.

🚙 Luxury Large SUV: Rivian R1S with 16.9% share.

🥇 Best Selling Passenger Car: Tesla Model 3 with 15.9% share.

🥇 Best Selling Light Truck: Tesla Model Y with 11.4% share.

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Tesla Sales Leads California New Car Sales in 2023

top cars sold in california

Tesla recently became the best selling car brand in California with a 13.6% market shar​​e.

The most popular models include the Tesla Model S, Tesla Model 3, Tesla Model X, and Tesla Model Y.

Among these, the Model 3 has been particularly popular due to its more affordable price point and wide appeal. 

Known for its innovative electric vehicles, the brand has experienced a significant recall affecting a wide range of its models.

For instance, Tesla models are among the most recalled, which is something to consider if you are thinking about buying one.

Tesla Recalls 2023

Recently, Tesla has issued a massive recall covering nearly all vehicles sold in the U.S., amounting to more than 2 million across its model lineup.

This recall includes the Model X, Model S, Model Y, and Model 3. The recall was initiated to fix a defective system related to the Autopilot feature.

Specifically, it addresses a fault in the system that monitors drivers when using Autopilot mode, ensuring that they are paying attention to the road and can take control of the vehicle if necessary.

This is one of many recalls that have consumers looking into the Tesla Lemon Law to explore how to get out of their electric Lemon. 

Honda Civic Showing Strong Sales in California

Honda Civic most purchased car in California

The Japanese brand Honda holds a significant 9.3% of the California new vehicles market. Here’s our breakdown for 2023:

Civic has 31,076 new registrations

Accord has 31,092 new registrations

CR-V has 30,674 registrations

Honda HR-V has 15,627 new car registrations

Honda Pilot has 9555 new registrations

Honda Recalls 2023

This year, Honda was involved in a recall affecting 2.3 million vehicles, which addressed various issues.

The recall for the 2023 Honda CR-V involves an issue with the front passenger seat back frame, which may not have been welded properly.

This welding defect can compromise the integrity of the seat, posing a safety risk to passengers.

The 2023-2024 Accord and HR-V faced a recall due to missing rivets in front seat belt pretensioners​​​​.

The 2018-2023 Odyssey, 2019-2022 Pilot, and 2019-2023 Passport were recalled because of faults in their Media Oriented Systems Transport (MOST) bus, affecting the rearview camera display​​.

It’s important for owners of these models to be aware of this recall and take appropriate action to ensure their safety.

Ford Top Sellers in CA

Ford, with an 8.1% control of the market in California, also faced recalls. In March 2023, several Ford models were recalled, which could impact many California drivers.

Ford Recalls in 2023

Ford recalled over 1.5 million vehicles in the U.S. to address two main issues: leaky brake hoses and windshield wiper problems.

These recalls affected several models, including the Fusion and Lincoln MKZ. The Ford F-150 was also recalled for a potential rollaway risk.

Additionally, Ford recalled around 45,000 cars over faulty door latches and certain new-model trucks due to safety issues with parking lights.

Top Selling Cars in California by Segment
Image courtesy of Experian Automotive

Chevrolet Just Behind Ford in New Car Sales for California

Chevrolet, holding 6.9% of the market, is another go-to brand in California even though GM issued several recalls for a number of brands.

Chevrolet Recalls 2023

In 2023, Chevrolet experienced several recalls affecting various models.

General Motors also issued a recall for nearly one million vehicles, including Chevrolet SUVs, due to faulty driver’s air bag inflators that could potentially explode and cause injury​​​​​​​​.

The 2020-2023 Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain were recalled for issues with rear-seat lower child seat LATCH anchorage bars that may not be installed correctly.

Additionally, Chevrolet Silverado models faced recalls over the years due to a range of issues, including improperly-cast sun gears and software defects.

Toyota Still in The Top 5

Toyota, though surpassed by Tesla, remains a top choice in California. The Toyota Camry is still a favorite among California drivers. However, like its competitors, Toyota faced recalls, including a significant one in November 2023 for 2.3 million vehicles, which might concern many Toyota owners in Californi​a.

Vehicle Recalls and The Lemon Law

Auto recalls in California are not to be ignored since they indicate substantial defects in a vehicle, potentially qualifying it for Lemon Law protection.

If you’re affected by such recalls, the California Lemon Law can assist in securing a replacement or refund for your defective vehicle.

For legal guidance and to find a lemon law attorney near you, call us or fill in your info and one of our advocates will reach out. 

2024 will prove to have several recalls that will be issued and Consumer Lemon Law will be reporting on every manufacturer that released defective vehicles compromising your safety and investment. 

Top Selling Cars in California That Have Been Recalled FAQs

Tesla’s Model Y and Model 3 lead the sales in California, with significant popularity and market share.

Electric cars, particularly Tesla models, have gained popularity in California due to environmental awareness and state incentives.

Check automotive news sources and dealership statistics for up-to-date information on top-selling models.

Consider factors like vehicle performance, environmental impact, and the availability of charging stations for electric vehicles.

There’s nothing more frustrating than a new car keeps having problems. 

After investing in a new vehicle, you expect it to be reliable and trouble-free.

However, many car owners are finding themselves facing persistent breakdowns with their new cars, leaving them confused and seeking answers.

This article aims to explore the reasons behind this breakdown dilemma and provide some light on some possible solutions.

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