Detroit, Michigan — September sales won't be as hot as August, the best month in eight years, but industry analysts still expect them to be strong.
Most predict sales rose around 10 percent from a year ago, fueled mainly by big discounts on pickup trucks. General Motors and Chrysler hoped to take advantage of Ford, which temporarily closed a truck factory to retool for its new aluminum-clad F-150. Ford also cut back on truck discounts.
Ram pickup sales helped Chrysler Group's sales jump 19 percent in September. Chrysler sold 169,890 cars and trucks, its best September since 2005.
Ram truck sales rose 30 percent to 36,612. Chrysler raised incentives on its Ram trucks by 22 percent from a year ago to $4,640, according to data collected by J.D. Power and Associates for the first three weeks of the month.
Cherokee sales rose to 14,639, surpassing the bigger Grand Cherokee and helping the Jeep brand increase sales by 47 percent over last September. The Cherokee went on sale last November.
Fiat and Chrysler brand sales also rose. Dodge sales were down.
GM was expected to lead the way on incentives, and it should pay off in big sales gains. Barclays analyst Brian Johnson expects GM to add nearly a full point of market share to 18.1 percent.
GM spent just under $5,000 in incentives per pickup, about 30 percent, or $1,140, higher than a year ago, according to data collected by J.D. Power. At the same time, Ford dropped its F-Series incentives by 4 percent to $4,332 as it retools factories.
"It should be should be a big month for pickup trucks," said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of auto sales forecasting for LMC Automotive, an industry consulting firm. "The main driver is the deal."
Also fueling the higher sales are crossover SUVs such as the Cherokee, Honda CR-V and Toyota RAV4, Schuster said.
Other automakers report September sales later Wednesday.