Light vehicle sales slow; truck sales outpace cars

New vehicle sales in California were down 4.4 percent in the second quarter of 2017 versus the same quarter last year says the California New Car Dealer Association. On year-to-date basis, registrations were down 2 percent in the state and 2.1% lower nationwide.

Locally, sales were down 7 percent through July in Tulare and Kings County according to an industry tracking report says local dealer Don Groppetti. “It’s not that things are so bad” says Groppetti, pointing to the fact that “we have had 4 to 5 years of record gains as a comparison.”

Still, there it a noticeable trend in the industry both here and statewide - sedan car sales are down and truck sales continue to zoom higher.In California car sales were down 10.8 percent through June while truck sales were 8.8 percent higher.

Here too, it is not a clear trend observes Groppetti.

“In the industry they count RAV4 and CRV utility vehicles as trucks” as the line between the two classes of vehicles has become blurred. There are lot more choices and vehicle of every stripe and kind, “much more than 5 years ago”

Small SUVs are selling more in a category seen as trucks.

Still, for the first time in California, often seen as a trend setter, that consumers bought more vehicles categorized as trucks than cars - 448,000 units vs 438,000 cars.

The California Association says while there are signs that demand for light vehicles is leveling off, we should continue to enjoy sales of 2 million vehicles this year. Sales have been rising in the the Golden State since 2009 when we bought just 1.04 million vehicles.

Statewide, hybrid and electric vehicles market share continues to increase in 2017 with pure electric share growing from 1.3 percent in 2013 to 2.5 percent this year.

This year so far, Subaru showed the largest sales gain by brand, up over 10%. By contrast KIA, Nissan, BMW and Lexus were down over 10%.

Corcoran industrial building in escrow

A large, but empty industrial building at 1200 Orange Ave in Corcoran is in escrow to be sold says the broker on the project, Mike Porte of Pearson Reality. The unnamed company seeking to acquire the 80,000sf building on 20 acres would grow and distribute marijuana confirms Porte. “We hope the deal will close by the end of the year” he expects. Corcoran city council appears to be ready to allow commercial growth of pot within its jurisdiction along with a handful of other Valley towns, starting in the new year.

Another Kings dairy calls it quits

The John Lopes dairy near Lemoore is calling it quits with a complete diary dispersal set for Sept. 8 to be held at A&M Livestock Auction.

Processing tomato acreage falls

USDA says contracted production for California processing tomatoes is forecast at 11.5 million tons, averaging 50.0 tons per acre. The current forecasted production is 8 percent below the 2016 crop, and 2.5 percent below the May forecast.

Spring rains brought relief from the drought but delayed planting. Harvest began in early July in the southern growing areas, which is about two weeks later than in 2016. The 2017 crop has experienced lower disease and pest pressures compared to last year. The overall crop has developed well so far with the early harvest reported to be of good quality. Potential concerns reported by the tomato growers were the delayed harvest and stress from triple digit heat waves. The projected harvested acreage of tomatoes is 230,000 acres, a decrease of 10 percent from 2016 and the lowest acreage since 1988.

The Processing Tomato Advisory Board reports that shipments through Aug. 19 were running 22 percent below those of 2016.

Big bounce for Kings home sales

The California Association of Realtors reports sales of existing homes in Kings County jumped 52 percent year over year, in July from July 2016.

Fresno crop value down 7.23 percent

Fresno County’s crop value dropped by 7.23% in 2016, the ag commissioner reported recently. Total value stands at $6.1 billion, a loss $482 million from the year before. The commissioner says that 2016 was third straight year of no surface water deliveries. Almonds were the top crop. The county’s crop was valued at $7 billion in 2014.

John Lindt is an independent business reporter. He can be reached at