More than 900,000 cars were sold in December, but the total for 2013 was the lowest for 18 years.

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A total of 906,294 new cars were sold last month, over 13%  more than in December 2012. It was the fourth month in a row in which car sales rose on an annual basis. Sales were down 1.7% over 2013 as a whole, however, marking the sixth year of decline for a European car industry battered by a crash in demand amid the eurozone’s crisis.

The UK has persistently outperformed the broader European car market in recent months, and new car sales there rose 10.8% in 2013.

Outside the UK, Spain was the only other major European economy to achieve growth in new car sales last year. In December however, sales were up in all major European economies including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, as well as the UK.

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