Business & Real Estate

California new car sales topped 1.8 million in 2014

With Honda Accord leading the pack, California’s auto dealers saw new car sales returning to pre-recession levels in 2014.

Last year’s new-vehicle sales of 1.84 million, including fleet sales, were up 8 percent over 2013 and more in line with what Golden State dealers were selling prior to the recession, according to figures released Thursday by the Sacramento-based California New Car Dealers Association.

In 2007, just before the recession crimped automotive sales, new car purchases totaled 1.87 million statewide.

“We have come a long way in just six years,” said Dave Moeller, CNCDA chairman.

The improving numbers were no surprise to John Driebe, who sells Nissan, Infiniti and Mazda vehicles in the Elk Grove Automall and heads the ForAnyAuto Group.

He said dealer car inventories are up throughout the Sacramento area, “and we’re seeing a lot more people coming into the showrooms now.”

Driebe said buyers appear to be more willing to spend as “manufacturers have continued to hold down pricing” in recent years. “We’re selling cars now for pretty close to what we were selling them for in 2007. Lots of people are replacing their older vehicles and, with interest rates as low as they are, they are finding monthly payments to be affordable.”

The Honda Accord dethroned the Toyota Prius as the best-selling motor vehicle in California last year, with 73,246 registrations. The Prius was second with 71,210 registrations.

Among full-size pickups, Ford’s F-Series, with 40,016 registrations, easily outdistanced the Chevrolet Silverado, which had 31,160 in sales. The Honda CR-V was again the state’s top-selling sport-utility vehicle with 34,980 registrations.

Toyota remained the top-selling brand statewide, with its models accounting for 22 percent of California’s new car registrations.

CNCDA noted that California’s used-vehicle market also improved last year, with 3.45 million registrations, up 4.6 percent over 3.3 million in 2013.

For 2015, CNCDA is projecting 1.91 million sales, which would be an 85 percent improvement over 2009, when new car sales dropped to 1.03 million, the lowest volume since 1975. The all-time record – 2.15 million new car sales – was in 2005.

Call The Bee’s Mark Glover, (916) 321-1184.