New car dealershipShould analyst expectations prove true, September auto sales are likely to have been lackluster, continuing a now four-month-long trend. Overall demand for new cars and trucks, while better than a year ago, is likely to be lower than that recorded in August, itself an unimpressive month.

We'll find out for sure on Friday, Oct. 1, when automakers are scheduled to release September sales data. Forecasts call for total new-car sales, including those by fleet buyers, to be 936,900, a near-28% increase above September 2009 levels but 5.5% lower than August, according to online car-buying guide Edmunds.com. Retail sales are expected to tally about 757,000, compared to 817,000 last month.

Despite the slower pace, automakers haven't been eager to boost consumer purchases through increased incentives. Average manufacturer incentives are estimated at $2,595 for each vehicle sold in September, down $106, or 3.9%, from last month, and off $151, or 5.5%, from September 2009, Edmunds said.

Cautious Consumers

"Automakers seem to have accepted the current sales rate," said Edmunds Senior Analyst Jessica Caldwell. "Most seem reluctant to invigorate the market through traditional incentives programs or unload significant levels of inventory as fleet sales." Car companies' unwillingness to boost rebates and other forms of incentives means prices are likely to remain stable through most of October.

Auto sales are being hampered by cautious consumers who aren't keen on taking on substantial debt loads as the nation's economic recovery continues to languish. That caution was evident Tuesday in fresh data from the Conference Board showing consumer confidence dropped to its lowest level since February.

Among domestic carmakers, Edmunds expects General Motors' sales, at about 171,900 vehicles, to have fallen 7.1% compared to August. Further, it sees GM's share of the overall market shrinking to 18.3%, down from August's 18.7%, and much lower than the 21.2% recorded in September 2009.

Edmunds expects Ford Motor (F) to gain market share, despite a slight drop in sales compared to August. The auto guide is forecasting that Ford's corner of the U.S. auto market reached 16.4% in September, up from 15.9.% in August and 15.2% a year ago. It estimates that overall Ford sold about 153,300 cars and trucks.

A Six-Month Slide for Toyota?

At recall-riddled Toyota Motor (TM), Edmunds calls for the carmaker to have sold 142,700 vehicles, down nearly 4% from August, and 13.4% lower than year-ago levels. Should sales predictions hold true, September would mark the sixth straight month the world's largest automaker has sold fewer cars and trucks in the U.S. than Ford. The Japanese auto giant surpassed Ford in 2006 to take the No. 2 U.S. sales spot.

Toyota's September sales likely accounted for 15.2% of the market, a tick above August levels but substantially lower than the 17.2% it garnered in September 2009, Edmunds said.

Among other major suppliers to the U.S. auto market, Honda Motor (HMC), Chrysler Group and Nissan Motors (NSANY) are each expected to sell fewer vehicles than last month but far more than they did in September 2009.

Combined, Detroit's Big Three -- GM, Ford and Chrysler -- are expected to account for about 45% of sales in September, up slightly from last month and matching year-ago levels, Edmunds said.

Edmunds' forecasts don't include sales of South Korean automakers Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, which have made increasing inroads into the U.S. market. Together, the sister companies are expected to boost market share to 8.9% in September, the highest level on record, according to estimates earlier this month from TrueCar.com, a car-buying guide.

For the month, TrueCar estimates Hyundai and Kia sales will reach 85,000 units, a slight drop from August but a robust 60% gain compared to September 2009.

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mhcontain

Pathetic American traitors. Less than 50% buy American cars, than proceed to blame politicians that there are no jobs.

September 30 2010 at 3:34 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to mhcontain's comment
Donald A Largen

veasystreet There is nothing wrong with buying foreign cars most are assembled here in america ie Toyota,Honda,Bmw,Mercedes Hyunda and Kia. Honda and Toyota hold their value better than any Ford,Chrysler or GM product.

September 30 2010 at 3:59 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
TOM MORRIS

tomozzy. You really have your facts together. Keep up fighting the good fight. I would like people to ask themselves one question: "How many Japanese or Korean customers, patients or neighbors support your business or family through their patronage with you? My guess is not many make the flight. Yet, we continue to support their countries' economy rather than support our own. Sadly, I don't think many foreign vehicle buyers ponder this. I encourage you to begin to do so. Thank you and God Bless America!

September 30 2010 at 2:48 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
wongtpa

Government motors has no chance! Obama made sure of that!

September 30 2010 at 2:32 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
ssyankeeclipper

why are so many people thumbs down my comment about ford? are they different from any other big company that would rather reposses a veicle that's not worth what is owned on it and that they would take a loss on when resold instead of helping the customers they have keep their cars and maybe just maybe if things inprove buy another car from them? is this really smart business practice? i don't know ..but if you get in a bind with your ford they will not help you even if they take a loss, just amazing

September 30 2010 at 1:42 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
ssyankeeclipper

hey to all you"deadbeats" out there did any of the companies offer any kind of help to keep you from defaulting on contracrs that you made before the economy tanked according to cherie you are all now "deadbeats" does that mean we were hard working americans before? i don't know i'm just trying to figure out what point cherie is trying to make after i posted a comment on how i ask ford to help me keep my payments lower but the only way they would is to increase my interest on the loan i think they're the "deadbeats" just another rich company that will want more more and more i think it's labeled greed

September 30 2010 at 12:57 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
piscesbaby36

The California plan which is still in operation is to tax business to death for their socialist programs.. The environmentalists then swoop in with more regulations and fees and finish them off.. this is why there are no jobs in CA.. why their schools went from # 1 to #48, why they have closed county hospitals and downsized their police and fire forces.. The environmentalists also destroyed the San Joaquin Valley agriculture industry to save a 2" fish which was not endangered.. Does any of this cound familiar? Demonize business, increase their taxes, have the environmentalists swoop in on them with cap and trade and "oil moratoriums"? It should .. the same people, the Democrats are in charge of California State Legislature (they are in charge of taxing and spending) and the US Congress and the White House.

September 30 2010 at 12:42 PM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply
beemerboxer

Somebody should tell the "analysts" that it is the economy, stupid! It would save the need for articles like this one and perhaps open their eyes to the recession out there.

September 30 2010 at 12:35 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to beemerboxer's comment
ssyankeeclipper

it's to close to the election the truth would hurt

September 30 2010 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +5 rate up rate down Reply
lulu0510

Is it my imagination or did all this unemployment begin when Obama was nominated?

September 30 2010 at 11:49 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to lulu0510's comment
iamjah

Psst,Americans cant afford to buy $20,000 cars when they are either working part time for $8.00 an hour or unemployed.The flaw in the "global economy".....

September 30 2010 at 11:04 AM Report abuse +8 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to iamjah's comment
David

Global economy? is China , India and Brazil part of the globe? or are they either drilling for oil or are they business friendly?

September 30 2010 at 11:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ssyankeeclipper

i want to hear from some hard working tax paying families that are buying new cars or benifit from the stock market,the rich need not comment only real americans that are struggling to pay bills on time and make ends meet? helloooo?anyone there?

September 30 2010 at 9:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
4 replies to ssyankeeclipper's comment