Californians have a tendency to avoid automobiles from Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, opting instead to purchase vehicles from import brands. The proof is in the numbers: Toyota owns 18.5 percent of the market in California and Honda claims about 12 percent. Of the American brands, Ford leads with 11.6 percent of the Californian market, followed by Chevrolet (8.3 percent) and Chrysler (5.9 percent, including Dodge and Jeep).

But there's good news buried in those numbers for the domestic brands, as each of them have posted very slight gains over the last several quarters. According to the LA Times, it's small cars that are finally turning the tides in California. The Chevrolet Cruze in particular is performing well in the import-rich climes of The Golden State, tripling Chevrolet's market share in its segment over the car it replaced, the Cobalt.

Still, it bears mentioning that there isn't a single dealership for an American brand in San Francisco, and imports still outsell domestics 4:1 in that large new car market. Clearly, the Detroit Three have a long way to go before they are on equal footing with their import rivals in California.


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  • 51 Comments
      Jorge Sanchez
      • 3 Years Ago
      People in San Francisco do not like SUV's, and for a while domestic car makers only offered big trucks (that for anyone that has been to SF is obvious why that car won't fit there). Their passenger cars were crap. So in a place were people like and need smaller cars Honda, Toyota and Nissan provided the perfect vehicle and if you had more money Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Porsche got your back. Lately in San Francisco a few Cadillac CTS and some Fords and Chevy Cruzes are making inroads but unless american car makers can present a product that is clearly better than anything from Japan (and now Korea) in terms of design, engineering and green credentials they will continue to be rejected from the market.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      EnzoHonda
      • 3 Years Ago
      American car companies worked hard in the '80s and '90s to build the reputation that they make crap. It takes a long time for people to forgive companies for building Cavaliers, Neons, and Explorers. The new Focus might be a great car now, but the Civic and Corolla have always been great cars. Disagree? Well, the market doesn't. Sales numbers, brand loyalty studies, and reliability surveys performed in the past few decades will show why it's not unreasonable for someone to say: "Dodge? I'd rather not take the chance." The fact that they're picking up share shows that they're finally producing acceptable vehicles and getting past their old image problems.
      ThisGuy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hmmm.... the rest of the country is buying domestic brand cars, the rest of the country buys small cars too, and the rest of the country has the mental capacity to make an intelligent and well informed car purchase. Sorry, but Californians are not inherently more intelligent than people from the rest of the states.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @ThisGuy
        [blocked]
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      richard
      • 3 Years Ago
      With California being $35 billion in debt, maybe they could beg the Japanese to bail them out. God knows, the`re already begging them for jobs.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @richard
        [blocked]
        8up1977
        • 3 Years Ago
        @richard
        http://www.taxfoundation.org/files/fedspend_per_taxesbystate-20071009.pdf We're struggling in CA because we're bankrolling the rest of you fools.
        Randy
        • 3 Years Ago
        @richard
        The Japanese people have enough to deal with right now! If you want to blame imports for being imports, then point your finger at tax planners that allow imports to compete unfairly with domestic products by way of having domestics which are imported to other countries being oppressively taxed and limited as to the quantity they can be sold while imports to the US have little or no taxes above and beyond domestics and are free to sell all they want to the American consumer! That's the problem! That with unions that abuse their 'powers'.
      Justin Campanale
      • 3 Years Ago
      Some people just flat out REFUSE to buy domestic. Just the other day, I was talking with one of my friends, he wanted a nice big SUV, so I told him about the Explorer, Durango, and the CX-9. He couldn't get over the Hello Kitty grin on the CX-9, and he dismissed the Explorer and Durango as being, "American crap which will give me problems", and to make a long story short, he bought an Endeavor.
        sckid213
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        LOL!! He bought BY FAR THE shittiest car on the list from a company that is about to disappear. Wow.
        Martin Edmonds
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin Campanale
        That friend is what we would call an uninformed cunsomer...like 95% of the car buying public.
          mikoprivat
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Martin Edmonds
          and of course the authority on "informed" consumer SPOKE...heeeere's Martin Edmonds
      styxmiko
      • 3 Years Ago
      how much respect can you have for the population of a state where Toyota owns 18.5 percent of the market and Honda about 12 percent. Hellooooo, these are the people that Autoblog is infering as being the echelon for car buying standards...are we all losing our minds here?!?! these manufacturers are the joke of the car industry when it comes to design...and yes they are not more reliable either than any american make.
      carfan
      • 3 Years Ago
      California is a beautiful state; it is a shame that it is inhabited by the biggest morons of the union who ruined it to the point where now it's becoming a big burden to the country. To say that Californians are smarter or brainier than the rest of the country is an abberation as big as the state of California. California starting with their demografics, politics, violent crime, school systems, health care etc etc is the epitome of misery, chaos and near anarchy. Anybody who (would) live there is not normal (I guess that explains certain things). Go there as a tourist, make sure you don't venture off the side roads, cause you'll be in trouble though. As far as their tastes in cars are concerned in my oppinion anybody who likes japanese cars has no taste or aesthetical sense whatsoever, so it is really irrelevant what these people buy.
        Need More Lutz 4 GM
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carfan
        that's a very narrow minded comment
        Dest
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carfan
        Car fan? Yeah right. More like domestic fan.
          mikoprivat
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Dest
          so what's wrong with him being a domestic fan MOROn. Aren't you a domestic???idiot???
        Rusty Shackleford
        • 3 Years Ago
        @carfan
        "Demografics"? From someone who has a hard time spelling a simple word, you have the audacity to chastise California schools? Violent crime? 4 out of the 10 safest cities in the world is in California. You, sir, sound like the typical redneck closet racist who do not like the progressive ideals of a state that is culturally diverse (which is a good thing) I love California and when people speak ill of it, they are speaking out of ignorance and jealousy (and a little stupidity). I do agree though that America would be better off if we could cut away some of the dead weight....say Texas (they want to secede anyway) and the rest of the old confederate south...maybe some of the bible humping states also. As for cars, Californians are into style....until very recently, domestics had no style....Impala? 300C? Taurus? I could go on.
      poopoohead100
      • 3 Years Ago
      This article makes it sound like Californians just buy imports only because they are imports. People here buy imports based on reputation, which took these companies decades to build. Heck, my family's '83 Accord Coupe is still running today. American companies are definitely improving, but it is going to take decades of reliability and quality to change people's perceptions. It's great that American companies are selling more here, but I hope they realized that it's because of the step up in quality. And no one buys import or domestic cars inside San Francisco. Everyone buys cars in the suburbs.
      rsxvue
      • 3 Years Ago
      If you make a competitive product people will come -- simple as that. I don't want so sound arrogant but people from California will buy cars if they're good values regardless of the manufacturer. Why do most manufacturers generally choose California as a test bed for new products? It's because trends developed there usually translate to trends developed nationwide. Most import companies grew in CA first then exploded throughout the country -- the domestics dwindled in CA first and then eventually the rest of the country.
      sckid213
      • 3 Years Ago
      I live in Calif. (LA specifically) and am seeing signs of this on the roads. Many more new Ford cars (Fusions, Focus, Fiesta), lots of Chevy Cruzes, new Grand Cherokees, and muscle cars like Camaro and Challenger. Also lots of Hyundai and Kia. Let's not forget that Calif. buyers tend to be very trendy. There was a big emphasis on imports here because of reliability. Now that the reliability gap has been closed, buyers are turning to style. And there's no denying Detroit is putting out of a lot of stylish vehicles these days. So is Korea. Honda and Toyota are the losers here. We're truly at the start of a new era. The days of the Japanese Import are ending.
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