DETROIT — For the auto industry, September could be the start of a really bad stretch.
Last month, U.S. light-vehicle sales declined 26.6 percent, and industry executives glumly predict that a turnaround won't occur until 2010.
Some analysts expect that U.S. sales this year could be as low as 13.0 million cars and trucks, a precipitous downturn from last year's 16.2 million. Next year won't be any better, predicted Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally.
"We won't see a recovery until 2010," Mulally told reporters at the Paris auto show last week.
General Motors COO Fritz Henderson was just as downbeat: "We are all under some pressure until 2010."
In September, U.S. sales dipped below 1 million units in a month for the first time since February 1993. And — uncharacteristically — the carnage was spread fairly evenly. No one was spared from a toxic mix of high gasoline prices, nationwide job losses and Wall Street's financial crisis.