17/06/2012 10:33 BST

Rolls-Royce Hits Record Sales Thanks To Growing Demand In China

Car maker Rolls-Royce has reported a record year as growing demand for the luxury vehicles in China saw sales move into the fast lane.

The Sussex-based company sold 3,538 cars worldwide last year - 30% more than in 2010 and more than the previous record year of 1978 when the figure was 3,347, the Sunday Times said.

China overtook the US as the car-maker's biggest market as the country's wealthier classes grow and demand for luxury goods, from clothing to motors, rises.

rolls royce

Now its motoring: China has helped Rolls Royce hit record sales

Rolls-Royce, owned by BMW, recently created a new director of mainland China role, which went to Henrik Wilhelmsmeyer, reflecting the growing importance of the region to the manufacturer.

Mr Wilhelmsmeyer has worked in senior roles for BMW Group for a number of years, the last six of which have been in China.

Last year Rolls-Royce started work on expanding its manufacturing plant at Goodwood in West Sussex.

The successful year comes as the British car industry is showing promising signs. The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders revealed car production rose 42% in May to 141,146, its highest level since 2004.