chrysler 300 srt8

Auto sales in California are red hot right now. The Detroit News reports that sales of new vehicles are up 17.7 percent in 2012, outpacing overall U.S. growth, which sits at a still healthy 13.3 percent. And since gas prices are still extremely high, cars accounted for a reported 62.7 percent of sales, while SUVs dropped to only 24.4 percent.

The car versus-SUV-paradigm isn't all that surprising given the price of petrol, but what is surprising is the brand that has received the biggest sales increase on a percentage basis. The Chrysler brand (aka the 200, 300 and Town & Country) is up a whopping 222 percent through March.

That's a shockingly big bump, but perspective comes with a glance at 2011 numbers. Last year, Chrysler sold just 2,470 vehicles in the largest car market in the U.S., compared to 7,955 sales in the first three months of this year. Chrysler has been so bad in California that in 2011 it reportedly accounted for only one percent of overall sales.

We don't know how much of this increase is accounted for with fleet sales of the Town & Country and 200, but at the very least it's probably safe to assume that rental car companies probably don't make up anything close to the 222 percent increase. It seems Chrysler may have a (somewhat muted) pulse in Cali after all.