Data Source: California Air Resources Board, California Greenhouse Gas Inventory - by Sector and Activity; Federal Highway Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation. Analysis by Beacon Economics
  • In 2021, both total number of vehicles registered and vehicle miles traveled (VMT) were higher than in 2020 (the latest year for which data are available). Between 2020 and 2021, vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in California increased by 3.7 percent (or 11,500 miles) to 310.8 billion miles, while the number of registered vehicles increased faster at 3.9 percent. GHG emissions from surface transportation slightly increased (+7.5% or 9.5 MMTCO2e) from 2020 to 2021. This is likely due to the easement of travel restrictions in 2021. GHG emissions from surface transportation in 2021 were 10.2 percent (or 15.4 MMTCO2e) lower than the pre-pandemic level in 2019. While GHG emissions from transportation in 2022 are not yet known, the number of vehicles registered saw a slight decrease of 0.7 percent from 2021 to 2022. This is likely due to the record high prices at the beginning of 2022, and cooling demand as the economy softened and the cost of financing car purchases increased.
  • In 2021, total new light vehicle registrations were up 23.8 percent compared to 2020, while light truck registrations (+27.6%) increased more than car registrations (+17.0%). Customer demand in California’s vehicle market has continued to shift towards pickup trucks, mini-vans, and SUVS. Light trucks accounted for 68.3 percent of the California new vehicle market compared to 78.9 percent in the U.S. in 2022. Moreover, in 2022, heavy-pickups truck registrations saw the largest increase among all vehicles, increasing by 74.8 percent from 2021. Standard vans and large cars also saw significant increases in registrations —increasing by 27.9 and 18.0 percent in 2022, respectively. Compact SUVs had the highest share of all newly registered vehicles in 2022, accounting for 24.7 percent. Midsize SUVs came in second at 16.8 percent share of all newly registered vehicles, followed by midsize cars at 14.7 percent. These rankings are consistent with previous year. In general, total registered midsize cars are the most common type in California, accounting for 18.7 of total registered vehicles in 2022. This is followed by compact SUVs (15.4%), compact cars (14.4%) and midsize SUVs (10.0%). While the rankings also remained largely the same in 2021, compact SUVs replaced compact cars as the second-most common vehicles in 2022.