DETROIT -- Auto sales in September are expected to increase 11 percent from a year ago, keeping the industry on roughly the same pace as in August, J.D. Power and Associates said today.
The forecast puts the industry's seasonally adjusted annualized selling rate at 14.5 million. The August rate of 14.53 million was the highest of any month so far this year.
Retail sales are expected to rise 12 percent, J.D. Power said. The company increased its forecast of full-year retail sales by 200,000 light vehicles to 11.6 million, based on higher-than-expected sales in July and August. It expects total sales of 14.3 million for the year.
"Consumer willingness or need to overlook the economic uncertainty is the driving force behind the recent strength in light-vehicle sales," Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting at LMC Automotive, which developed the forecast with J.D. Power, said in a statement.
"During the next few months, car buyers will be processing further economic news, additional details on the European crisis, as well as the forthcoming presidential election, likely creating an environment with higher volatility."
J.D. Power said retail sales are likely to rise in all major segments except mid-sized utility vehicles and large pickups. Small- and mid-sized cars are expected to post increases of at least 25 percent at retail.
The company said retail sales were up 15 percent in the early part of September but should level off through the end of the month.
Separately Thursday, Edmunds.com said it expects industry sales to reach 15 million in 2013. That is 4 percent more than its 2012 estimate of 14.4 million, which would represent a 13 percent increase from 2011 sales of 12.8 million.
"2013 will likely be the first year of non-double-digit sales growth since the recovery began in 2010," Lacey Plache, Edmunds.com's chief economist, said in a statement. "Economic uncertainty at home and spillover effects from slowing economies abroad will continue to slow the pace of American economic growth, including car sales. But many of the same positive factors in play now will continue to support car sales momentum in 2013."
To keep up with that level of demand next year, many automakers and suppliers would need to find ways to add production capacity. J.D. Power said production in North America already is "edging toward capacity constraints with various vehicle components."