February 27th, 2008
Orange County in California has always been a very affluent place to live, home to many movie stars, corporate bigwigs and some generally well heeled individuals. What this amounts to is a very robust economy that can usually stave off any downturn that befalls many other regions of the United States but when you hear that the new car registration for January has fallen 28.5%, the biggest decline in two decades then you know times are hitting hard.
January is renown within the auto industry for being slow for car sales, with dealers trying to shed their last remaining inventory from the previous year and with generally good discounts available for those who want to venture but even these tactics with added incentives hasn’t bolstered the sales. The sale of vehicles in Orange County has already suffered a dramatic drop in 2007 by 9.2% and coming into the new year it was forecast that this year would fair no better with an additional 3.1% decline, that was before the January report.
The dramatic change in sales reported by the Orange County Auto dealers for January 2008 compared to January 2007 goes like this; 12,822 this year, 17,936 in January 2007 and this is not restricted to large SUVs and pickups, it covers the whole spectrum of vehicles. Every segment of the industry has reported a loss, popular vehicles and brand Toyota/Scion a winner in Orange County down by a whopping 35.8% and that’s with the most fuel efficient vehicles in the industry. Luxury brands like Lexus, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche and Cadillac plunging between 28.6% to 42.9% leaving none of the most popular brands unscathed, Chevrolet bottomed out with a 38% loss while Ford fell 22.3%
Is this a true indication of a pending recession, gas prices are on the rise again, my local garage has raised the price 12 cents over the past two days with regular now poised at $3.35 a gallon and the summer months are not upon us yet, does this means we’re in for $4.00 a gallon this summer.
The housing slump is firmly entrenched and with pay rises few and far between little can be had to combat the raising cost of living but out of this mire a few bright stars still managed to eek out a profit. Buick, Volkswagen, Hyundai, Mazda and Infiniti were the only brands to see a sales increase ranging from 42.9% to 0.4% so go figure that one out.