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Incentives Down, Sales Up In October—And Truck Sales Surge

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2011 Chevrolet Cruze

2011 Chevrolet Cruze

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2011 Ford Edge - first drive in and around Nashville

2011 Ford Edge - first drive in and around Nashville

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October isn't always such a strong month for auto sales, but this year it is. Higher demand for light trucks, along with sustained fleet sales and strong performance from some new models on the market, helped the auto market bounce back to its highest sales level in over a year.

Fleet sales, which have spurred most of the sales increases to date this year, are still strong, but according to some analysts October marked the beginning of stronger retail sales.

That comes as a little surprising, as high unemployment and mortgage woes persist. And incentives are actually down slightly from last year, overall. Yet small businesses are beginning to buy again, according to the Detroit News.

But some kind of market recovery is afoot. GM reported that its average transaction prices are up 10.5 percent just over the first ten months of 2010. Most recently, the 2011 Chevrolet Cruze began arriving at dealerships; GM's Buick brand also remained strong, with a nearly 39-percent sales increase.

Ford dealerships have started seeing the 2011 Ford Edge and 2011 Ford Fiesta, and they look forward to the new 2011 F-150 models, with all-new engines. Ford sales were up 19 percent versus last October. According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford has increased its market share by 1.5 percent over January through October and is poised to increase its annual market share for the second straight year—for the first time since 1993.

Light truck sales actually outnumbered passenger-car sales for the second month in a row, comprising nearly 53 percent of total vehicle sales.

Chrysler sales were up an impressive 37 percent—thanks in part to the new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But Chrysler continued to offer the highest incentives on its new cars--$3,416 to keep them moving—while Ford averaged $2,761 and GM offered up $3,103 per vehicle.

Toyota sales fell 4.4 percent in October, versus last October, which the automaker attributed to its lower share of the truck market. Nissan and Honda, however posted strong sales gains. Both were up about 16 percent versus a year ago. Toyota offered $2,118 per vehicle in October, according to Autodata, while Honda offered $2,021 and Nissan Nissan incentives still totalled $2,530.

The largest retailer in the U.S., AutoNation, confirmed that new-vehicle sales at its retail outlets were up 15 percent in October, versus October 2009.

[Detroit News; Detroit Free Press]

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