North American automotive manufacturers are scaling back production in October, even as the month is on course for robust sales.

Ward’s estimates October output will total 1.481 million cars and trucks, or 63,900 units below what was scheduled for the period at the beginning of the month. About two-thirds of the gap (42,400) will be in cars, with trucks coming up shy by 21,500 units.

Each of the Big Three manufacturers and Toyota Motor Mfg. North America Inc. are expected to come up short, while Honda of American Mfg. Inc. and Nissan Motor Mfg. Corp. U.S.A. should surpass their original plans for October.

Despite expectations October will be one of the best months for U.S. sales this year, it’s evident the industry does not expect full momentum to carry into November. Each of the Big Three cut production by adding plant downtime to their schedules, although General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co. still are running some truck plants on overtime. Most of those are facilities building large pickups and big sport/utility vehicles, which on a seasonal basis have their best demand at this time of year.

In addition, DaimlerChrysler Corp. already has announced additional shutdowns at two car plants that will take an estimated 3,800 units out of its November build, unless it offsets those moves with increases in production at other facilities — an unlikely move.

Ford last week revised its North American production schedules for November and December and now is planning to produce 325,800 and 262,800 units, respectively. Including its estimated October output, Ford’s fourth quarter production is slated at 957,200 units, 9.1% below year-ago. (The schedule comparison used in tables below and on p.7 is based on the data published Oct. 1.) Accounting for October’s estimate and Ford’s adjustment, industry output for the fourth quarter is slated at 3.873 million units, including 1.348 million in November and 1.043 million in December. U.S. output alone is slated at 951,700 in November and 744,300 in December.

Meantime, forecasted Oct. 31 U.S. inventory for domestically made light vehicles has been revised to 2.716 million units, 9.5% below year-ago. Domestic car inventory is forecast at 1.005 million units, down 17.8%, and light trucks at 1.711 million, off 3.7%.