DETROIT Strong demand drove U.S. new car and truck sales 10 percent higher in September, adding momentum to the industry's best August in more than a decade, consultants LMC Automotive and J.D. Power said on Thursday.
Sales rose to 1.248 million new vehicles, or a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 16.5 million vehicles. This follows a 17.5 million annualized rate in August.
"The strength in automotive sales is undeniable, as August sales performance was well above expectations and there is no evidence of a payback in September, suggesting that the auto recovery still has some legs," LMC forecaster Jeff Schuster said.
LMC raised its full-year forecast for 2014 to 16.4 million vehicles from 16.3 million vehicles.
It also forecast 2015 U.S. sales at 16.7 million vehicles, "with more upside potential than downside risk," Schuster said. At the start of this year, LMC had expected 2015 sales to be 16.5 million vehicles.
Industry research firm Edmunds.com said on Thursday it expects U.S. September auto sales to show a rise of 11 percent to 1.261 million vehicles. September had one more selling day this year than in 2013.
Ford Motor Co (F.N) is the only automaker expected to show a sales drop, of 4 percent, Edmunds said. Ford has cut production of the top-selling vehicle in America, the F-150 pickup truck, as it readies to launch the 2015 F-150.
General Motors Co (GM.N), the No. 1 U.S. automaker by sales, is expected to show a 22 percent rise in September U.S. sales, as will Honda Motor Co (7267.T), Edmunds said. The next biggest gains would be 17 percent by Nissan Motor Co (7201.T); 16 percent by Chrysler, a unit of Fiat SpA FIA.MI; and 7 percent by Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T), it added.
Industry research firm Kelley Blue Book on Thursday forecast U.S. September sales will rise 9 percent to 1.24 million vehicles. KBB said GM's rise in sales of 16 percent will trail gains by Chrysler and Nissan of 17 percent. KBB said Ford sales would fall 2.4 percent, Honda's rise 12 percent and Toyota's rise 7 percent.
(Reporting by Bernie Woodall; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli and Richard Chang)