Data Tracker

Pickup or Prius? Where you live in California says a lot about the car you buy

A Bakersfield resident in the market for a new car last year more likely than not headed home in a light-duty pickup truck. Someone living in the San Francisco Bay Area tended to prefer Honda and Toyota sedans.

While low gas prices and a solid economy have contributed to a statewide uptick in the sales of light-duty trucks and SUV’s, more fuel-efficient sedans remained the top choices overall, according to 2016 new vehicle registration data collected by industry watcher IHS Markit.

The Honda Civic was the top California seller last year, followed by a trio of similarly-sized sedans: the Honda Accord, the Toyota Corolla, and Toyota Camry. Two trucks – the Ford F Series and Chevrolet Silverado – were fifth- and sixth-most popular.

Only one class of pickup – the Ford F Series – ranked among the most popular vehicles in the San Francisco Bay Area region. The Honda Civic was the most popular new vehicle in 2016, followed by the Honda Accord, Toyota Corolla, and Toyota Camry. The Ford F Series ranked fifth.

Hundreds of miles to the south, in the Bakersfield area, the Chevrolet Silverado pickup was the best-selling new vehicle in 2016. Pickups represented four of the five top-selling vehicles in the designated market area centered on the city of 374,000.

The Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto market area had more of a mix. The Ford F Series truck was the top-selling vehicle, followed by the Honda Accord and Honda Civic, the Dodge Ram truck, and the Chevrolet Silverado pickup.

Brian Maas, president of the California New Car Dealers Association, said people in a state as large as California have always had different vehicle preferences.

“The number of Priuses sold by a Toyota dealer in Bakersfield is not the same as the number of Priuses sold by a Toyota dealer in Santa Monica,” Maas said. “Dealers spend a lot of time, money and effort to figure out the appropriate vehicle product mix to serve their clientele.”

Overall, Californians registered about 2.3 million new vehicles during the year ending June 30, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. That was down slightly from the previous fiscal year, but still 156,000 vehicles more than new vehicle registration total in 2014-15.

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