U.S. auto sales down in September from August image

September was supposed to a lukewarm month for auto sales with expectations that the languishing economy would keep consumers on the sidelines.

Automakers posted significant gains in September US auto sales from depressed 2009 levels with Chrysler and Ford sharply outperforming their rivals, industry data showed.

U.S. auto sales in September rose to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 11.8 million, compared with 9.4 million a year earlier, according to researcher Autodata Corp., based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. In August 2009, the pace was 14.2 million, aided by the federal subsidy for fuel-efficient models.
Analysts and auto executives say that deep-seated consumer anxiety around housing prices and employment prospects are keeping the pace of the recovery in U.S. auto sales much slower than had been expected heading into 2010.

“The economy does remain hampered by the negative mix ofjobs, housing and credit and it’s really that troika ofchallenges which we think will improve gradually,” said EllenHughes-Cromwick, Ford’s chief economist.
“We’re not going to bust loose as you sometimes see after a downturn, but we’ll see steady growth,” said Don Johnson, GM’s vice president of U.S. sales.