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Tesla quietly becomes one of California's bestselling luxury cars

August 27, 2013|By Jerry Hirsch
  • Tesla has become a top seller among luxury cars in California with sales in the first half of 2013 trailing only the Mercedes E-Class and the BMW 5-Series.
Tesla has become a top seller among luxury cars in California with sales… (Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg )

Tesla Motors Model S has quietly become the third-bestselling luxury car in California, trailing only the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and BMW’s 5-Series.

Tesla has sold 4,714 of its Model S electric cars in the state during the first half of the year, according to the California New Car Dealers Assn. Only the Mercedes E-Class, with 6,582, and the BMW 5-Series, with 6,077, sold more.

Moreover, it looks like California accounts for about 50% of the Palo Alto car company’s total sales during the first half of this year.

Tesla sells its Model S sport sedan for prices starting at $63,570 and running to more than $100,000, with the largest battery and driving range.

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Californians just seem to get a charge out of electric cars, or at least cars that can run partially on electricity.

The state’s love affair with the Toyota Prius continued through the first half of this year, but a couple of Honda cars are within striking range of knocking the hybrid from its perch as the overall bestselling vehicle in California.

Car shoppers registered 33,987 Prius hybrids in California during the first half of 2013. That was narrowly ahead of the gas-powered 31,798 Honda Civics and 31,576 Honda Accords sold during the same time period.

Toyota’s Camry, with sales of 27,996 units, and Corolla, 26,522, were fourth and fifth, respectively.

Californians are buying cars at a faster rate than the rest of the nation. Sales are up 12.5% here during the first half of the year compared with a 7.7% national increase.

The sales results show that, compared with the nation at large, Californians favor Japanese and European brands over American and South Korean nameplates.

Still there’s no doubt that domestic makes are gaining clout in California. Their market share rose to 29% in the first half of the year compared with 27.4% in the same period a year ago. Chevrolet, Ford and Tesla are the domestic brands gaining market share at the fastest rate in the state.

But Toyota, along with its Lexus and Scion brands, still remains the dominant player in California, accounting for more about 21% of the market. It is followed by the Honda and Acura brands with a combined 13% and then Ford and Lincoln with 12%.

California shoppers like passenger cars best; they account for almost 63% of California car purchases during the first six months of this year. Nationally passenger cars make up barely 51% of sales.

Follow me on Twitter (@LATimesJerry), Facebook and Google+.

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