Consumers can expect more rebates and other auto-buying incentives after U.S. vehicle sales fell 4 percent last month, the first dip since June.
The automakers could take the slightly softer sales as a sign that they need to continue rebates, subsidized loans and other incentives to bring buyers into dealerships, analysts said."Overall the market looks to be more sluggish than we have seen," said Nick Colas, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston.
General Motors Corp. on Friday was among the last automakers to report September sales. The No. 1 automaker said new models fueled a 3 percent gain in U.S. vehicle sales, but Ford Motor Co. posted a 2 percent drop on sluggish car sales.
GM had its best September since 1990 and has posted three straight monthly gains for the first time since 1995. GM's car sales were flat, but sales of pickups, vans and sport utilities rose 7 percent compared with September 1996.
Ford said car sales were down 12 percent last month, while light-duty truck sales rose 8 percent. Ford blamed the car decline on late production launches and a failure to push sales aggressively to rental agencies.