LOS ANGELES - September auto sales are expected to be weak because of the credit crunch, high gas prices, and the troubled housing market, reflecting an overall slowdown for the year, but little effect from the brief strike against General Motors Corp., industry analysts say, according to the LA Times and the Associated Press.

Jesse Toprak, chief economist for auto information site Edmunds.com, predicts Honda Motor Co. will be the only automaker to report an increase in sales, helped by the arrival of the 2008 Accord. Automakers will soon report September sales. Auto sales will probably be down 4 percent from a year earlier, JPMorgan auto analyst Himanshu Patel said. Patel predicts Ford Motor Co. will be among the weakest performers, with double-digit declines, as the automaker cut back on incentives as well as sales to rental car companies. Patel said that GM should be flat and that Chrysler would also see some declines, as reported in the LA Times and the Associated Press.

Lehman Bros. analyst Brian Johnson anticipates the industry will end 2007 with full-year sales of 16 million vehicles. If so, that would be the slowest year since 1998, when a 54-day strike crippled GM’s production, and the total would be 1 million vehicles fewer than the peak of 17.3 million in 2000, according to Ward’s AutoInfoBank.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials

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