The forecast for Western Europe at the beginning of 1998 was dreary. Flat sales were expected. But by year's end, the market mounted a surprising gain of 6.84% to finish the year with sales of an extra 916,938 vehicles. Volkswagen AG was the big winner in 1998. Its four divisions — Volkswagen, Audi, SEAT and Skoda — helped it retain its status as Europe's largest automaker, a title it likely will retain this year with a slew of new products on tap. The VW division jumped from No.3 to No.1, ...

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