General Motors expects US October new light vehicle sales to tumble from strong levels this summer to a seasonally adjusted annual rate for the industry of around 16 million, GM's head of sales analysis told Reuters on Tuesday.

"We'll probably hit 16 (million), but if we do, it won't be by much," Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of market and industry analysis, told Reuters before a press preview of the new Saturn Relay and Buick Terraza minivans.

Ballew reportedly said strong results this summer, when sales hit a 2003 high of 18.9 million in August, sapped strength in the following months but results will be up from the annual rate of 15.3 million in October last year.

"After the third quarter surge we had, we expect October sales to fall off a little bit," he told Reuters.

Ballew told the news agency GM's sales could be a bit weaker in October from last year, when GM recorded a strong market share of about 29.6%, above its usual level. "We'll be a little softer than the industry, but OK," Ballew reportedly said.

Reuters noted that, last year, GM recorded its second consecutive year of US market share gains for the first time in more than 25 years and needs a strong close to the year to record a third consecutive year of market share gains, but executives have conceded in recent months that that will be difficult to accomplish.

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