After a static October, car sales across Europe picked up sharply again last month. They grew by just over 12.1 percent compared with November 1997.
The year-end total is back on course to reach more than 14 million units. In 1997, 12.8 million cars were sold. Four countries reported increases of more than 30 percent last month: Finland, 37.4 percent; the Netherlands, 34.4 percent; Spain, 32.3 percent; and Austria, 30.2 percent.
The rise in Spain equates to sales of 102,727 - the country's highest-ever monthly figure. More than 1 million cars have been registered in Spain so far this year.
But the most significant sales success was in Germany, Europe's biggest car market, where a 19.3 percent rise helped the overall European total reach 1.1 million in November.
The European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said the boom largely was explained by new-model launches and a favorable economic environment.
Volkswagen AG - which includes Audi, Seat and Skoda - now sells nearly one in every five new cars bought in Europe. VW has sold 2.4 million cars in Europe so far this year.
Sales of Mercedes-Benz cars also have increased dramatically in Europe, up 25 percent to 574,939 units in the January-November period. France continued its growth trend. Renault outpaced its home market with sales up almost 40 percent compared with November 1997.
In Italy, where the market has continued to decline since the demise of the government's scrapping incentives, sales fell 8.2 percent. But the market is outperforming forecasts, and carmakers are revising their pessimistic expectations for 1999.