Black Friday car sales explode in popularity

Karl Regalado calls it crazy.

In the span of a few years, Black Friday has gone from being a day he dreaded spending in the showroom to one of the busiest days at the Buick/GMC dealership he manages just outside Chicago.

"This year we're expecting business to be so strong it will be incredible," said Regalado who manages the Bill Kay Buick GMC dealership in Downers Grove, Illinois. "This weekend our sales will probably be up 200 percent"

Welcome to Black Friday, the fastest growing day for auto sales.

2015 GMC Sierra Pickup.
Jin Lee | Bloomberg | Getty Images
2015 GMC Sierra Pickup.

Gone are the days when auto dealers looked on enviously as people flocked to shopping malls the day after Thanksgiving while their showrooms were relatively quiet.

"I used to stare out the window and absolutely hate Black Friday" said Regalado. "Now, I can't wait for it. We'll probably do $1 million in sales."

Black Friday deals flourish

If you've watched TV in the last week, you've seen a flurry of ads from automakers trying to lure you in to buying a new car or truck.

Jeep is running the "Black Friday Sales Event"

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So are Kia and Fiat

Ford's "Dream Big" black Friday promotion includes an offer to an Amazon.com gift card worth up to $1,000.

GMC is offering $9,655 cash back on select Sierra pickups.

What sparked the rush of promotions?

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"Last year, the sales on Black Friday were so much better than anyone was expecting, it's made almost every automaker realize they need to be in the game this year," said Jessica Caldwell with Edmunds.com.

And for good reason.

Edmunds.com estimates Black Friday weekend sales should be roughly 80 percent greater than the average sales for the three other weekends in November.

"Black Friday is quickly becoming one of those extended weekend holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day where Americans are going car shopping," said Alec Guttierez of Kelley Blue Book.

Death of 2-car family?
Death of 2-car family?   

This year, the surge of sales right after Thanksgiving is expected to push November's sales pace close to 17 million, well above the full year sales rate of 16.5 million.

Kicking off holiday auto sales

One reason Black Friday is no longer a black hole for auto dealers is the steadily increasing popularity of year-end holiday sales promotions by automakers.

For years, BMW, Lexus, Mercedes and other luxury brands have had huge Decembers by pushing campaigns tied to the holidays.

But it's only been in the last few years sales executives have concluded thousands of Americans are ready to buy a new car or truck on Black Friday.

Read MoreJeep sales in high gear despite repeated knocks

"It's almost a surprise it's taken dealers this long to realize the power of Black Friday," said Gutierrez. "It's a smart way to kick off the holiday season with some momentum."

In addition many dealers are running their own promotions to further entice buyers to stop by their showroom instead of spending Black Friday at a mall.

At Bill Kay Buick/GMC, it's a White Friday Sale.

Those buying get the vehicle they are buying for free if it snows six inches or more on Christmas Day.

Relagado expects the White Friday promotion to be a huge hit.

"We'll be very busy this weekend. I can't wait," he said.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com.