California is known for imposing tougher environmental regulations on car manufacturers than the EPA. Because the market in California is so huge, car companies find it is easier and cheaper to build all their US models to meet the California Air Resources Board (CARB) standards rather than having separate “40 state” models.
It became fashionable for every Hollywood star to have one parked in the garage alongside the Jaguar/Ferrari/Lambo. California has a lot of High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes on its many freeways and Prius drivers were allowed to use them even if they were driving alone. How cool is that? Eco-snobbery drove Prius sales through the roof, making it the best selling car in the state year after year.
During the first quarter of 2014, the Honda Accord muscled its way to the front of the line, edging out even the mighty Prius as California’s best-selling car. There are a couple of reasons for this. The 9th generation Accord was released last year, so the 2014 Accord represents the latest thinking in the automotive universe. The Prius has been around, virtually unchanged, for almost 10 years. Its shape, once so trendy, is looking a little dated. The Accord is a bigger car that has more room for families, and the hybrid version gets virtually the same gas mileage as the Prius (in addition to being WAY more fun to drive). The Accord looks more mainstream, and doesn’t scream “hybrid” the way the Prius does.
The Accord only outsold the Prius by about 300 units (and limited supply could be hurting those numbers), but those sales numbers offer insight into trends in car sales nationally. Prius sales are down about 10% from a year ago, primarily because buyers have many more hybrid models from other manufacturers to choose from. Because California is such a trendsetter, the Accord/Prius battle there provides clues as to how the new car market will evolve in the rest of America over the next year or two.
Source: The L.A. Times