September's light-vehicle sales rate will fall to 8.8 million units, the consumer auto site Edmunds.com said. That would be the lowest rate in nearly 28 years, tying the lowest figure on record.
After the cash-for-clunkers program boosted August sales to their first year-over-year increase since October 2007, demand has plunged. In at least the past 33 years, when comparable records began, the U.S. seasonally adjusted annual rate has dropped as low as 8.8 million units only once, in December 1981.
U.S. sales fell to 13.2 million units in 2008 from 16.2 million in 2007. The slide continued, with demand ranging from rates of 9.1 million to 9.9 million units in the first half of this year.