The head of Japan's automakers' lobby has said he feared the US market would remain weak and would not reach total sales of 11m vehicles next year.

"I expect the U.S. market would be slightly better than this year, but there are fears that it won't reach 11m," Satoshi Aoki, chairman of the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association (JAMA), as well as Honda Motor, told a news conference.

US auto sales are expected to end with an annual sales rate of about 10.5m units, the lowest level since the early 1980s, Reuters noted. Many analysts and industry executives have forecast a modest rebound next year into the 11m to 12m unit range.

At his final news conference for this year, Aoki said the industry lobby would announce its outlook for domestic vehicle sales for 2010 once the government had made a decision on whether to maintain or do away with an extra tax levied on car purchases.

The government is aiming to compile its budget for the fiscal year starting in April by the end of this month before submitting if for approval by parliament, which will convene in January.

Aoki said, however, that he expects the six-month extension of incentives to replace old cars with new ones to help support Japan's dwindling vehicle demand.