BRUSSELS - Europe's stellar performance of the first half of 1999 won't be repeated in the last six months of the year, experts said.
But light-vehicle sales nonetheless are expected to set a record in 1999, breaking last year's 14.3 million.
European sales steamed ahead by 11.1 percent in June, lifting the first-half gain to 8.0 percent over year-ago levels. The results defied analyst and industry predictions.
Through the first half, a total of 8,110,395 vehicles were sold in 18 countries tallied by Automotive News.
This year's sales should reach about 14.8 million units, said Arthur Maher of J.D. Power-LMC Automotive Forecasting Services in the United Kingdom. Standard & Poor's DRI puts the figure at 14.5 million units.
June's gain was led by the market's biggest players. The three leading sellers - Volkswagen, PSA Group and General Motors - all had double-digit increases.
Robert Hendry, chairman of GM's Adam Opel AG, predicted the European market will grow by only 2 to 3 percent this year - despite the 8 percent gain in the first six months.