Forecast: October U.S. auto sales may plunge 29%

General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC may drag U.S. auto sales for October to their lowest levels since 1992, a forecasting firm said last week.

Overall industry volume will plunge 29 percent to 872,000, Edmunds.com said in a statement today. That would mark the industry’s second straight monthly decline of more than 25 percent and put the industry on a course for its sharpest annual slide in almost three decades.

“All of the frenzied speculation about the future of Detroit’s automakers, ranging from mergers to bankruptcies, surely adds to the consumer’s retreat from buying a car,’’ said Michelle Krebs, an Edmunds senior editor.

GM will pace the industry with a 41 percent decline for its domestic brands, Edmunds said. Ford and Chrysler will be down more than 34 percent. Among the biggest Japanese automakers, Nissan’s volume will fall 29 percent, Honda will drop 17 percent, and Toyota will slide 16 percent, Edmunds said.

If market conditions don’t improve in the last two months of the year, the industrywide total may fall to 13.6 million, Edmunds said. That would mark a 15.8 percent decline from last year’s 16.2 million for the biggest annual plunge since demand dropped 19 percent from 1979 to 1980.

October’s projected sales of 872,000 would be the lowest monthly total since January 1992, Edmunds said.

You can reach Lindsay Chappell at lchappell@crain.com

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