Two key forecasters are at variance over 2010 US light vehicle sales.

CSM Worldwide raised its forecast 600,000 units to 11.8m and said consumer confidence would improve enough to drive the industry's recovery by the first quarter of next year, when employment and other economic indicators are expected to bottom out.

That would be the first year-on-year increase in US light vehicle sales since 2005, Reuters noted.

"The move reflects cautious optimism that we will see gradual improvement in core market fundamentals following the first quarter of next year," CSM analyst Joe Barker told the news agency.

Meanwhile, JD Power and Associates said there were "strong signals" that the market had seen the trough of the current downturn that had saddled major automakers with mounting losses but it kept its forecast at 11.5m units.

"I think the signals are strong but we are not fully out of it (slump) yet. Given what we have been through, we prefer to remain cautious," JD Power analyst Jeff Schuster said.

Both CSM and JD Power expect industry-wide US light vehicle sales to top 10m units this year, the report added.