The BMW group recorded its highest-ever monthly sales in March with 165,842 BMW, Mini and Rolls-Royce brand vehicles leaving the showrooms around the world.

Its previous high of 152,721 vehicles was recorded in December 2007 and the company also achieved a new high for the first three months with sales starting the year stronger than ever.

Retail volumes for the year to the end of March increased by more than 67,000 vehicles to 382,758 units, against 315,630 in 2010, growth of 21.3%.

March sales rose in Europe rose 7.8% to 93,540 and Asia sales were up 52% to 35,048 while in the Americas sales of 32,020 vehicles was an increase of 18.6%.

Ian Robertson, board member responsible for sales and marketing, said the positive start to the year was mainly thanks to an attractive model range and healthy auto markets in many parts of the world.

Sales this year are expected to rise to over 1.5m units, a new all-time high, with all brands achieving new sales volume records.

Growth in March was driven partly by BMW’s large vehicles. The strongest sales growth within the model range was posted by the 5 Series with 30,954 deliveries, double the figure for March 2010.

Since sales commenced a year ago, the company has sold more than 200,000 5 Series models.

The Mini brand also reported record figures at 30,689 units, up 28.5% on March last year, easily exceeded its previous monthly best. A total of 60,860 vehicles were sold in the first quarter of 2011, a sales increase of 23% compared with the first three months of last year.

Rolls-Royce sold 261 models, up from 125 in March 2010 and, for the year to the end of March, deliveries climbed 159% to 723.