2018 Model Year Vehicle Sales Are off to a Historically Slow Start 

Edmunds says the industry is off to a sound start in the fourth quarter of the year, but a majority of October sales were still of this year's versions.

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The car industry's transition to the 2018 model year is coming at a snail's pace, at least in looking at October's historically-low numbers. 

According to Edmunds, 73 percent of sales last month involved 2017 model year vehicles, compared with a year ago, when 62 percent of October sales came from 2016 model year vehicles. 

Overall sales exceeded expectations, with nearly 1.4 million new vehicles sold during the month. That said, not all manufacturers fared so well, with Fiat Chrysler sales down 13 percent from the year-ago period.

Edmunds, the online provider of vehicle information, said a strong fourth quarter could help pave the way for 2018 models before the 2017 model year vehicles need even more generous incentives to clear them off dealers' lots. 

With two months to go in 2017, consumers can expect to be inundated with holiday-sales pitches as the auto industry looks to cut inventories and close the year on a strong note. In recent years, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving that's viewed as the start of the holiday-shopping season, has averaged about 15 percent of total November sales, Edmunds said.

The industry research group projects that continued high incentives and pulling up sales events once reserved for December could bolster sales in November.