Fiat sold 1.9 million cars around the world last year, 62,000 more than in 2003, a company source told Reuters.

The news agency noted that Fiat has launched a raft of new models over the past two years to reverse a sales slump which dragged it deep into crisis, but its share of core western European and Italian markets has continued to fall to historic lows.

The source reportedly said much of last year's growth was thanks to sales in resurgent Latin American car markets and Turkey.

Last year, Fiat sales in Europe - which make up about 70% of the total - were flat even as the wider market grew 2.1% - in its core Italian market, sales ticked up 1%, Reuters said, adding that chief executive Sergio Marchionne this week said sales were likely to fall in 2005 as he cuts out unprofitable sales like rental cars and so-called 'zero kilometres' - unsold cars that are first-registered by dealers and sold at less than full price.

"The philosophy of winning market share at any cost doesn't pay in the long term," Marchionne reportedly said.