U.S. consumers bought more cars in September than in the previous year, but early sales results from leading automakers on Wednesday were mixed.
General Motors Co, Fiat SpA's Chrysler Group and Nissan Motor Co all reported year-to-year sales gains, but Ford Motor Co said sales fell slightly from a year ago.
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The generally positive results indicated industry strength continued as summer waned. A Reuters survey of nine analysts showed expectations for a 10 percent rise in September to about 1.25 million vehicles industrywide.
Ford sales fell 3 percent, to 180,175, as the automaker slowed production of the F-150 pickup truck, the best-selling vehicle in America, to prepare for the launch of the redesigned 2015 model. Analysts surveyed by Reuters expected a similar decline.
F-150 sales dipped 1 percent, with Ford's small cars and crossovers showing bigger declines. Ford's Lincoln brand jumped 13 percent, bolstered by the new MKC compact crossover.
GM sales increased 19 percent, to 223,437, about what analysts predicted. The automaker's full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickups soared 47 percent to 66,939. GM's premium Cadillac brand was flat.
Chrysler said sales rose 19 percent, to 169,890. Analysts expected a 17 percent rise. Its Jeep and Ram brands were up 47 percent and 35 percent, respectively, but sales of Jeep Grand Cherokee fell 14 percent.
Nissan sales climbed 19 percent, to 102,955. Analysts looked for a 15 percent increase. The company's premium Infiniti brand fell 13 percent, while sales of the Nissan Leaf electric car jumped 48 percent.
While the forecasts are for another robust sales month, some analysts were concerned that generous consumer deals, including low lease rates and zero-percent financing, are stealing demand from the future.
Each month, auto sales are an early indicator of U.S. consumer demand, particularly for large-ticket items.
On Tuesday, reports showed U.S. consumer confidence fell in September for the first time in five months, and home prices in July rose less than expected from a year earlier, underscoring the unsteady nature of U.S. economic growth.