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Even as California embraces electric vehicles, pickup trucks still rule its roads

  • Data from the California New Car Dealers Association shows the Ford F-Series pickup outsold all pure electric vehicles combined in 2017.
  • Full-size pickups outsold electric vehicles by a 3-1 ratio last year in California. The annual report on what new models Californians registered in 2017 showed an overall decline of 2 percent compared with the record sales the state experienced in 2016.
  • As for Tesla, the lone automaker based in California, the state continues to be critical to overall sales.
General Motors Co. GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images
General Motors Co. GMC Sierra Denali pickup truck at the Los Angeles Auto Show.

California, easily the biggest market in the United States for electric-vehicle sales, is still very much in love with the pickup truck.

In fact, data from the California New Car Dealers Association shows the Ford F-Series pickup outsold all pure electric vehicles combined in 2017. Californians bought 53,549 electric vehicles last year compared with 55,249 F-Series. In fact, full-size pickups outsold electric vehicles by a 3-1 ratio last year in California.

"Electric vehicles are popular out here, especially in the cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles," said Jessica Caldwell, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "But the rest of California is rural, and, outside the cities, pickups are everywhere."

The annual report on what new models Californians registered in 2017 showed an overall decline of 2 percent compared with the record sales the state experienced in 2016.

Like the rest of America, Californians are increasingly turning away from cars. In 2017, just 25 percent of the new vehicles registered in California were small cars, which is down from 31 percent of the market in 2012.

Meanwhile, demand for vehicles with more space and utility helped pickups, SUVs, crossovers and minivans capture more than half of the market, according to the data.

As for Tesla, the lone automaker based in California, the state continues to be critical to its overall sales. Nearly one out of every five Tesla vehicles delivered last year went to a buyer in California. That's down from 2016 when the automaker generated 23 percent of its total sales in the Golden State.

What happens when deliveries of the Model 3 ramp up? Caldwell expects it to boost electric-vehicle sales in California — but pickups will still be more popular.

"We do expect the Model 3 to do well in California, but we are probably many, many years away from electric vehicles coming close to passing pickup trucks," she said.

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