Astonishingly, 2002 ended with the highest level of December sales ever seen in Western Europe. The main reason was a rush to take advantage of government incentives in Italy, which expired at the end of the year (though the expectation in the industry is that a new set of incentives will be announced before long). Total sales are likely to have been close to 1 million units in December, representing a rise of 11% on the year-earlier month, and a seasonally adjusted selling rate during the month at the all-time record level of 17 mn units/year.
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