Just a month after boosting, then cutting, second-quarter output, automakers are taking a more cautious approach to scheduling production at their North American assembly plants in July-September.

The goal is to avoid having to make significant downward adjustments later on if sales don’t materialize as anticipated.

Currently, industry plans call for the assembly of 4,295,800 cars and trucks in July-September, 4.9% less than the 4,477,500 built in like-2016, including 10.8% fewer cars and 1.5% fewer trucks.

The shortfall is spread fairly evenly across the quarter, with output in July and August set to run 5.3% below prior-year’s completions, while September trails year-ago by 4.3%.

FCA, General Motors and the dedicated medium- and heavy-duty truck makers together are slated to turn out 266,200 fewer vehicles in July-September than they did a year earlier. Although Ford still is formulating its initial Q3 plan, it is forecasted by WardsAuto to build just 34,700 fewer cars and trucks in quarter.

Six transplant automakers have scheduled third-quarter output at a collective 45,500 units below their prior-year levels, ranging from 4,300 units at Hyundai to 15,500 at Toyota.  

Not surprisingly, cars again took the biggest hit with July-September output scheduled 10.8% lower than the number built in like-2016, while truck production is down just 1.5%.

The third-quarter plan comes on the heels of a second-quarter slate currently estimated at 4,623,600 units, 1.4% lower than the 4,690,900 built a year earlier.

That tally includes a final April count that is 10.7% less than that of the prior year, an estimated May finish 7.9% ahead of like-2016 and scheduled June output 1.2% below that of a year ago.

Output for January-September is set at 13,491,900 vehicles, 1.6% less than the 13,740,000 turned out in the same period a year earlier.

Operating at 93.7% of year-ago volume, the FCA, Ford, General Motors triumvirate, with 436,900 units, accounts for the bulk of the year-over-year decline.

Dedicated medium- and heavy-duty truck makers are running 36,900 units, or 14.6%, below like-2016.

Despite some shortfalls among individual automakers, transplant producers, as a whole, are set to assemble 251,500 more cars and trucks than in the first nine months of 2016, a 3.9% gain.

abinder@wardsauto.com