In the realm of automobiles, California has long been a trailblazer in both design and regulatory standards. However, is it now serving as an early warning signal for the industry's future, particularly regarding the viability of electric vehicles?

Despite a sustained and seemingly unstoppable growth, the registration of battery-electric vehicles in California experienced a downturn in the last quarter of the previous year. Notably, EV sales have consecutively declined for two quarters, even as California authorities set a 2035 deadline for all new vehicle registrations to be zero-emission.

Stephanie Valdez Streaty, Director of Industry Insights at Cox Automotive, views this as part of a transitional phase in California's overall adoption. However, she emphasizes that if this trend continues, it could signify a broader slowdown in EV adoption.

California recorded 89,993 registrations for electric light passenger vehicles in the fourth quarter, marking a 10 percent decrease from the 101,151 recorded in the third quarter. While the EV market still constitutes a significant portion of California's auto sales, accounting for 21.4 percent last year, questions arise about its future trajectory.

Valdez Streaty anticipates national EV sales growth but acknowledges potential unevenness with periodic fluctuations. She foresees continued expansion with the introduction of more products, incentives, and price reductions as consumers become accustomed to reliable charging infrastructure.

Brian Maas, President of the California New Car Dealers Association, expresses doubts about California achieving its regulatory target of exclusively zero-emission new-vehicle sales by 2035. He notes a slowdown in the sales trend, emphasizing the need for a substantial increase in the coming 11 years.

While a two-quarter decline is not deemed a definitive trend by Maas, it warrants close monitoring. Several factors contribute to this situation, including Tesla's fourth-quarter registrations dropping by 10 percent despite a 25 percent year-over-year sales growth.

As gasoline prices decrease, internal combustion engine vehicles gain attractiveness, impacting the sales of EVs, plug-in hybrids, and hybrids. The confusion surrounding federal and state tax credits and rebates for EVs, linked to assembly location and materials sourcing, adds to the challenges.

California EV Sales Go On The Decline - Has The State Run Out Of Buyers Willing To Believe The Dream?

About the Author