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September
US auto sales could be great again.

Justin Sullivan/Getty

Major automakers will report September US sales on Tuesday, and
analysts expect the numbers to reverse a months-long trend.

The September yearly sales pace could come in closer to the
record years of 2015 and 2016 — 17.5 million and 17.55 million
respectively — for the first time since April.

Predictions range from a low of 17.2 million to a high of 17.6
million, according to analysts surveyed by Bloomberg.

The consensus is for 17.4 million, a dip from last September, but
the US sales market during the second half of 2016 was running
very hot, surging toward an all-time record.

Very few market observers expected that torrid pace to hold up.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, the
auto industry is expecting a boost in new car sales
during
the fourth quarter to replace damaged or destroyed vehicles in
the Southeast. So 2017 could end slightly below 2016 in terms of
sales, but with the healthy pace by historical standards.

Regardless of how the numbers shake down, one thing is certain:
September US auto sales will continue to be all about crossover
SUVs and pickup trucks, the highly profitable vehicles that
have defined the boom times of the past two years. 

The money made from these vehicles has enabled automakers to
build up their balance sheets and sock away cash for a sales
downturn.

That downturn, however, looks as though it won’t arrive until
sometime in late 2018 or early 2019.