Despite a somewhat lower overall volume, October’s light-vehicle sales decline from September was less than historic norms, while the seasonally adjusted annual rate remained above 13.0 million units for a second consecutive month, as laid out in a WardsAuto forecast.

October’s 1,017,332 LV deliveries averaged 39,128 each of 26 selling days, a sharper- than-expected 6.9% decline from 42,013 over 25 days in September. However, that still was less than the 8%-11% drop usually seen at this time year as dealers come off incentive-boosted, model-year clearance programs.

Related document: U.S. Light Vehicle Sales – October 2011

Compared with year-ago’s 27 selling days, the industry posted an 11.6% gain in October, a trend that encompassed nearly all brands.

Likewise, October sales equaled a 13.2 million-unit SAAR, up from 13.1 million in the previous month and well above the 12.1 million posted in like-2010.

The car sector fared somewhat better than the light-truck segment, with an October-September DSR decline of 5.3% vs. 8.2%, but showed slightly less year-over-year improvement of 11.5% compared with 11.7%.

All but one segment of the market posted gains on year-ago. These ranged from 1.9% for vans to 19.2% for SUVs, followed by 15.2% for midsize cars.

Only the large-car segment, down 20.9%, failed to better prior-year’s performance due to the phasing out of a number of models in the segment over the past 12 months.

Among individual auto makers, Honda and Toyota both bucked the October-September decline with DSR increases of 5.6% and 6.1%, respectively. However, Toyota was down 4.3% from like-2010, while Honda posted a 3.3% gain.

With an improved dealer inventory, Honda retailed 98,333 LVs in October, compared with 89,532 in September and 98,811 year-ago. Both Honda and Acura brands were up from year-ago on a daily basis.

Toyota counted 134,046 Toyota and Lexus sales in October, an increase from prior-month’s 121,451, but well under like-2010’s 145,474.

Among other Asian brands, Mazda, Mitsubishi and Nissan sales were down sharply in the month compared with September, as dealers awaited shipments of ’12 models.

Chrysler posted the greatest month-to-month decline, 13.4%, of the North American auto makers, edging General Motor’s 13.2% shortfall. However, GM’s 5.7% gain on year-ago paled in comparison with Chrysler’s 31.9% jump.

Ford sales fell 7.9% in October, compared with September, but were 10.8% ahead of prior-year.

LV sales for the first 10 months totaled 10,503,526 units, up 11.2% from year-ago’s 9,544,758.

Car deliveries rose 7.5% to 5,093,325 units in the period, compared with 4,730,153 in like-2010. Light trucks climbed 12.3% to 5,410,201, compared with 4,814,605.

abinder@wardsauto.com