Wet, slow January drops Orange County auto sales 4.2%

A wet, post-Christmas January put a damper on auto sales in Orange County, which saw a 4.2 percent slide when compared with the same time period last year, according to the Orange County Automobile Dealers Association.

Car sales were a drag on overall sales, falling almost 11 percent. The winner? Once again, light trucks and SUVs saw an uptick, this time up 4 percent. Trucks and smaller SUVs have been a winner for months.

Last year light pickup trucks, which includes smaller SUVs, sales increased 11.3 percent, while car sales skidded 8.4 percent.

“It’s a reflection of low gas prices, continued growth in construction and a consumer shift back to SUVs,” said John Sackrison, the executive director of OCADA.

Last January cars were 58.2 percent of Orange County’s auto industry while light trucks accounted for 41.8 percent. Fast forward to 2017 and cars represent 53.4 percent of sales while light trucks have a 46.6 percent share.

Sackrison said the decrease in sales in January could be because of the rain.

Brands in January with positive sales included: Buick, Chrysler, Fiat, Jaguar, Lincoln, Maserati, Porsche, smart and Volkswagen. On the downside: BMW, Chevrolet, Dodge, Ram, Ford, GMC, Hyundai, Kia, Mazda and Nissan all saw the biggest decrease in sales.

January’s downward trend in Orange County also was reflected in auto sales nationwide, which decreased 1.8 percent, according to Autodata Corp. Cars experienced a 12.2 percent decline, but light truck sales increased. The vehicles accounted for 62.6 percent of January sales.

In 2016, 17.55 million vehicles were sold nationwide, a record-setting year.

Orange County auto sales plateaued in 2016, seeing a 0.2 percent decrease in sales, after six years of growth.

The Honda Civic was the bestselling car in the county last year, while the CR-V was the leader for light trucks.

Sackrison expects sales this year to be similar to sales seen in 2016.

Contact the writer: hmadans@ocregister.com

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