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California is Driving US Car Sales Rebound

Golden State buyers continue to overwhelmingly favor Asian brands.

by on Jan.25, 2013

With the addition of several new models, such as this Prius C, the Prius "family" comprised the best-selling nameplate in California last year.

The boom in auto sales gave the national economy a huge lift in 2012 and was critical in helping swing the industrial Midwest into Barack Obama’s camp during the 2012 presidential campaign.

But it turns out California — where gasoline prices were among the nation’s highest for much of the past year — was leading the boom in car sales. It was also at the cutting edge of the shift from conventional gasoline power to cleaner, higher mileage battery-based vehicles.  Significantly, the Toyota Prius became the state’s best-selling vehicle.

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But, as has been the case for a number of decades, foreign-owned brands, especially the Asians, topped the California sales charts, Kia, the increasingly stylish Korean carmaker, was the fastest growing brand, posting a 53% sales gain among California’s traditionally trend-conscious buyers.


California Dreaming: Big 3 Struggle to Win Back West Coast Buyers

To succeed, domestics must win back jaded import owners.

by on Jul.21, 2009

California Dreamin'? Potential buyers check out the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, parked here by a San Diego beach.

California Dreamin'? Passersby check out a 2010 Chevrolet Camaro, parked by a San Diego beach.

“Why would I even consider buying a car from Detroit,” says Leslie Hamilton, a successful author living in Seattle, “when I’ve been completely happy with my Toyota – and the one I had before and the one before that?”

It’s the same sort of question millions of other motorists keep asking themselves, nowhere more frequently than along the import-friendly East and West Coasts.  Unless and until Detroit’s Big Three automakers can come up with the right answer, their ability to stage a significant comeback will be limited, industry analysts warn.

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“How to get through to people in those markets is our number one challenge,” says Bob Lutz, the 77-year-old General Motors vice chairman who recently decided to postpone retirement but shift his duties from product development to marketing.  “If I had the answer, I’d probably have done it yesterday.