October U.S. light-vehicle sales should lag September by 8.2%, despite this month’s two additional selling days (27).

Ward’s also is forecasting total light-vehicle deliveries will come in just below 950,000 units.

October historically undergoes a daily sales drop-off from September, as spiffs on prior model-year vehicles dissipate and new models populate dealer lots.

At forecast levels, daily sales would finish 17.2% ahead of last October (28 selling days), a month in which payback from the government-backed “Cash-for-Clunkers” incentive program continued to depress sales volumes.

In traditionally low-volume months such as October, the seasonally adjusted annual rate can be fickle. The October SAAR, for instance, moves a full point (100,000 units) for every 7,000 vehicles sold.

Additionally, the September-to-October change has been unusually volatile over the past decade, especially in the domestic light-truck sector, making the monthly SAAR a less-relaible indicator of overall market health.

With that in mind, Ward’s expects October’s SAAR to reach a 14-month high of 12.2 million units, which also would rank also as the second-highest SAAR since September 2008.

Related document: Ward’s U.S. Lt. Vehicle Sales and Inventory Forecast

As fleet sales taper off this month, the Detroit Three auto makers’ collective share of LV sales is expected to fall to 44.7%.

October has been a down month for General Motors Co. in the past, and Ward’s looks for GM to drop about a half a percentage point of share to 17.6%, while Ford (16.7%) and Chrysler (10.6%) take up most of the slack.

Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. likely will see the biggest month-to-month share gain in October, with projected sales of 151,000 units, nearly flat with year ago DSR, making up 15.9% of the market – the company’s highest market share since July.

American Honda Motor Co. Inc. is expected to sell more than 3,600 cars a day (14.3% above year ago), grabbing 10.3% of the U.S. market.

Hyundai Group should account for 8% of LV sales, with a forecast DSR of 2,824, up 42.5% from a year-ago decimated by Clunkers payback.

Ward’s also is forecasting a 12% year-over-year gain for Nissan North America Inc., while the auto maker’s share is expected to fall to 7.1% for October.

Europe-based auto makers should see sales up 19% over year-ago, good for an 8.2% share of LV deliveries. The combined share of Asian and European auto makers could rise more significantly, if there is a larger-than-expected falloff in fleet sales.

At forecast volumes, year-to-date LV sales through October would total 9.55 million units, up 10.6% from like-2009.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com