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DETROIT, Mich. – 2002 was one of the best years reported by the U.S. auto industry, thanks to 0% financing incentives. But the same incentives that boosted sales also cut into auto manufacturers’ profits, making 2003′s outlook questionable. Auto industry observers project that when the numbers for the full year 2002 are counted, they will show that 16.6 million new vehicles were sold in 2002. That’s just 4% less than the record set in 2002 – 17.36 million. But much of that sales activity was fueled by manufacturers’ 0% financing offers, and going into 2003 auto experts say the big three auto manufacturers – Ford, GM, and DailmlerChrysler – are considering the new year to be “pivotal for the industry.” While most economists have offered that auto industry can’t afford to continue to offer incentives long term, experts say auto manufacturers may find a way to continue to offer them.

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