DETROIT — As the government shutdown enters its third week, some automakers are expressing concern that it will slow the industry’s robust growth this year.
General Motors, the nation’s largest automaker, acknowledged that the shutdown was chipping away at the consumer confidence that automakers depend on to sell vehicles, even if it was still too early to gauge the full impact of the fiscal standoff.
“The longer this issue goes unresolved, the growing anxiety among consumers and the market will not help the industry keep up its strong pace,” said Greg Martin, a spokesman for General Motors.
Hyundai also said this week that industry sales could fall as much as 10 percent in October because of uncertainty surrounding the shutdown, according to John Krafcik, chief executive and president of Hyundai Motor America.
“Anytime you turn on the news, it’s all you’re hearing about,” Mr. Krafcik told Bloomberg TV on Monday. “We think that anxiety is the sort of anxiety that keeps customers, potential buyers, on the sidelines when they’re thinking about a big purchase like an automobile.”
The automakers are coming off a sluggish September, when new vehicle sales were off 4.2 percent. That was the first time that industrywide sales had dropped since January 2011. G.M., down 11 percent, and Hyundai, off 8.2 percent, were among the worst performers.
Now, rising economic uncertainty is adding to the concern that the sales momentum created this year by pent-up demand and readily available credit could continue to slow, analysts said.
“As the shutdown drags into its third week and the government moves closer to breaching the debt ceiling, the likelihood that October auto sales will be softer than expected increases,” said Lacey Plache, chief economist for the industry researcher Edmunds.com.
Not all automakers expressed concern, though. Ford Motor said that the industry appeared to be on pace with projections, made before the impasse, to sell more than 15.5 million vehicles this year.
“We haven’t seen any noticeable decline that can be directly attributed to the government shutdown at this time,” said Erich Merkle, Ford’s United States sales analyst.
Chrysler Group also said that the impact of the shutdown had been minimal.
“Outside of the greater Washington, D.C., area we see virtually no impact on auto sales in October,” Gualberto Ranieri, a Chrysler spokesman, said in an e-mail. “Right now we are confident that industry and Chrysler Group October sales will both be up over the same period in 2012.”
Some automakers, however, have started to acknowledge the shutdown’s impact on government workers’ finances. Hyundai, Ford, Nissan and Toyota have said that they will allow government employees to defer their car loan or lease payments for up to three months.
Toyota said its offer to assist customers affected by the shutdown included furloughed workers, businesses and employees of businesses directly affected by the shutdown, government contractors and suppliers. Customers “in good standing” are eligible to defer up to three months of payments through Toyota Financial Services or Lexus Financial Services.
“The government shutdown has placed an unanticipated financial strain on many individuals and families,” Al Smith, vice president of service operations for the Toyota Financial Services Group, said in a statement on Monday.
Toyota declined to say whether the government shutdown would affect October sales.
“Operationally we are fine,” Carly Schaffner, a spokeswoman, said.
Hyundai announced a program on Oct. 1 that gives current owners payment relief “for as long as they are out of work.” The automaker is offering to postpone payments by 90 days for furloughed employees who want to buy a car this month.
About a thousand people have applied to defer payments under Hyundai’s program, a spokesman, Chris Hosford, said.
G.M. and Chrysler said they had no plans to offer a similar program.
“However, as it is with most cases, the individual lender will work with the consumer,” said Mr. Martin, the G.M. spokesman.