Honda and Toyota Expected to Lead September Sales Growth

DETROIT—Auto makers on Tuesday will report new-vehicle sales for September and are expected to show healthy growth. Market researchers such as Edmunds.com and TrueCar.com predict sales of about 1.1 million cars and light trucks, a rise of almost 11% from a year earlier.

But a close look at forecasts indicates that much of the gain is driven by two manufacturers: Toyota Motor Corp. and Honda Motor Co. TrueCar forecasts that Toyota’s sales rose 33% in September and that Honda’s rose 27%. That compares with depressed levels a year ago, when the two still were reeling from disruptions caused by the March earthquake in Japan.

Their Detroit rivals are on track for smaller increases. TrueCar sees Ford Motor Co. reporting a 1.3% rise, and General Motors Co. a 2.5% bump. Sales at Chrysler Group LLC are expected to increase 8%.

The difference reflects just how tough the competition is in today’s auto industry. The Detroit Three have recovered from the auto crash of 2008-09 and now field lines of passenger cars that can go toe to toe with the best Japanese models. GM, Ford and Chrysler all gained market share last year.

But Toyota and Honda are clawing back. Toyota redesigned its Camry sedan, and Honda has a new Civic compact. A revamped Honda Accord is arriving in showrooms now.

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