For Carmakers, California Holds the Keys

If US followed California's lead, 58% of all cars sold would be imports.

Published: 05-Jan-2003

LOS ANGELES, Jan 3 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp. (Tokyo:7203.T - News), which on Thursday unveiled the second model in its Scion brand, will for the first nine months of the new line's life aim for only hip and young buyers who happen to live in California.

It's an acknowledgment by Toyota that California sets the pace in automotive trends that the rest of the country follows. The automakers who unveiled new models at the Los Angeles auto show this week know there's still a lot of gold to be made in the Golden State.

Nearly 20 percent of new vehicles bought for personal use in the United States are sold in California, according to CNW Marketing Research. It has 28 million vehicles and 22 million licensed drivers, more than any other state. Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche noted in a speech Thursday that if California were a separate country, it would rank as the fifth largest economy in the world, with an annual gross domestic product of $1.3 trillion -- more than France, Italy or Canada.

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