Toyota’s Prius Keeps Top California Sales Rank, Tesla Gains

Feb 14, 2014 4:24 pm ET

(Updates shares in penultimate paragraph.)

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.’s Prius hybrid was the best-selling vehicle line in California for the second year in a row in 2013, as Tesla Motors Inc.’s Model S claimed third place among luxury cars, according to a market report.

Sales of Toyota’s four-model Prius line were 69,728 in the state, the biggest U.S. market for new cars and trucks, ahead of Honda Motor Co.’s Civic, based on the California Auto Outlook report issued by the California New Car Dealers Association yesterday. Model S sales were 8,347, behind Daimler AG’s Mercedes E-Class and Bayerische Motoren Werke AG’s BMW 5-Series sedans. Tesla’s $71,000 car wasn’t among 2012’s top sellers.

Sales of hybrids, plug-in autos and battery cars in the most populous U.S. state are disproportionately higher than the U.S. average owing to emissions rules that are among the world’s toughest. Autos powered partially or wholly by electricity accounted for 9.3 percent of California sales last year, according to the report.

By comparison, the U.S. average for hybrid and rechargeable autos was only 3.82 percent, based on data compiled by HybridCars.com and Baum & Associates. Californians bought 1.71 million new autos last year, 11 percent of the 15.6 million purchased nationwide.

Toyota’s Prius line, the world’s top-selling hybrid, includes the main hatchback, the v wagon, c subcompact and a plug-in electric version. The Toyota City, Japan-based company said this week that it’s recalling about 1.9 million Prius models worldwide to fix a software flaw that could cause the cars to lose power or stall.

U.S. Sales

U.S. sales of the Prius last year totaled 234,228, making it the 17th vehicle by volume nationwide, according to Autodata Corp. Ford Motor Co.’s F-Series pickup led sales, with 763,402 deliveries last year.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts fell 0.8 percent to $115.17 at the close in New York. Tesla slipped 0.7 percent to $198.23

Tesla is scheduled to release fourth-quarter financial results on Feb. 19. Analysts on average estimate the company will post a profit, excluding some costs, of 18 cents a share, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The net loss may narrow to $2.4 million, or 2 cents a share, while sales may more than double to $668.6 million.

--Editors: Niamh Ring, Ben Livesey