An end-of-the-year buying frenzy ahead of tough new emissions rules for automakers and changes in consumer-incentive programs propelled new-vehicle sales in Europe higher for 2019.
European registrations rose 21 percent in December to 1.26 million vehicles in European Union and European Free Trade Association countries, according to industry association ACEA. The double-digit gain was enough to push full-year 2019 sales 1.2 percent higher to 15.8 million, reversing the previous year's slight drop.
Sales rose in December in many European markets as automakers tried to sell models with high CO2 emissions before new EU regulations went into effect on Jan. 1.
The big gain in sales was also due to a low base of comparison with 2018, when sales were crimped in the last months of the year by the introduction of emissions testing that caused supply bottlenecks at some automakers, especially Volkswagen Group.