By Jeff Gilbert

DETROIT — (WWJ) Car buyers returned to dealerships in big numbers in October, and they were especially attracted to brands with new products.

Overall sales are up about ten percent, as—analysts say– pent up demand played itself out.

“There are a lot of buyers that have really held on to their vehicles,” said Jeff Schuster, J.D. Power’s director of global forecasting. “As credit starts to come back a bit, we see a lot of those buyers coming back into the market.”

Chrysler lead the domestics with a 27 per cent sales increase.

“In what is turning out to be a strong new vehicle sales industry we continued to outperform,” said Reid Bigland, President and CEO – Dodge Brand and Head of U.S. Sales, in a statement. “For October, our retail sales increased 40 percent year-over-year with sales of the Chrysler 300 more than doubling and Jeep Compass sales increasing fivefold. The month of October also marked our 19th-consecutive month of year-over-year sales gains.”

Ford sales were up six percent. Their sales analysis manager Eric Merkel says the seasonally adjusted annual sales rate (SAAR) is running in the mid 13 million range, a big improvement from the weak summer.

“It gets us back on track, really, to where we were in the first quarter of the year, as an industry.”

Ford saw strong sales of its F-150 pickup, its new Explorer and it’s new small cars, the Fusion and Focus. The Ford brand saw its sales rise, but the Lincoln brand was off from last year.

GM posted a two percent sales improvement, driven by Chevrolet, which was up 6 percent.

“In the week that we’re celebrating Chevrolet’s 100th anniversary, it’s good to see our ‘big dog” division really start to drive sales again,” said GM Sales .

All other GM divisions were down, Buick was off 7 percent, GMC was down 5 percent, and Cadillac was off 12 percent.

“It’s important to recognize as we look at these numbers that October of 2010 was one of our strongest months of the year,” said Johnson.

Volkswagen sales, meanwhile, were up nearly 40 percent. Hyundai sales are up 23 per cent. Both companies are seeing new products pay off.

Many analysts were expecting October to be the strongest sales month of the year, as pent up demand played out, after a weak summer.

According to, recession jitters and concerns about availability of some Japanese products kept 200 thousand customers out of the market over the summer. Many of them are starting to return, and that should help the fourth quarter.

“Depending on pricing and availability through December, most of this should play itself out by year-end,” says Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of, in a statement. “This suggests we should view sales in October with a degree of caution. The performance over the past few months is not the start of a trend. It is more of a mini-bubble.”

J.D. Power’s Jeff Schuster expects pent up demand to carry the market through the end of the year. But, he sees economic headwinds making 2012 a challenge.

“We’re seeing how the stock market is reacting to the debt situation in Europe today. Those jitters can still have an impact as we head into 2012.”

Connect with Jeff Gilbert
Twitter: @jefferygilbert


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