But manufacturers should brace themselves for a slump in sales of 6.6% this year, or 2.4 million vehicles, according to business intelligence firm, the World Markets Research Centre.
Last year, sales were 1.6% down on the 37.3 million cars sold in 2000, but the decline was much lower than predicted.
A spokesman said: 'The unexpected level of sales is largely due to the introduction of 0% finance schemes in the US, as well as lower interest rates and discount offers in Europe.
'They are likely to have artificially brought forward sales to the latter part of the year, which will in turn accentuate the slump in 2002.'
In the UK, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders predicts sales will slump by 8.6% to about 2.2 million from last year's all-time record.