Luxury car-maker Rolls-Royce recorded a 12.45 percent increase in global sales in 2000 compared to 1999.

Continental Europe (98 percent increase), the 'rest of the world' (a 29 percent rise) and the Americas, the largest market for Rolls-Royce, (4.65 percent improvement) all saw year-on-year increases.

UK sales decreased by 9 units to 76, reflecting an emphasis by current owner Volkswagen on Bentley sales in the home market, pending Rolls-Royce's move to BMW stewardship, and a new Sussex factory, in 2003.

"We saw two new Rolls-Royce products in the Park Ward and Corniche launched last year, both of which have been very well received in all markets," said Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motor Cars chief executive Tony Gott.

"The Corniche has been responsible for maintaining current sales levels and we expect this particular model to stabilise Rolls-Royce in 2001."

Worldwide Bentley sales grew by 35 percent to 1,364 units in 2000 from 1,007 in 1999. Both the Americas and the UK markets registered growth of over 27 and 29 percent.

Increased sales were also achieved in both the Japanese and Continental Europe markets, with 42 and 49 percent increases. Far East and Asia Pacific markets collectively sold over twice as many cars in 1999, reporting a 102 percent increase.

Mr Gott said: "This is a tremendous start to the new Millennium for Bentley Motors. Last year we announced our return to Le Mans in 2001, and we are eagerly developing our new mid-sized Bentley (MSB) which we will launch within the next three years, plus we announced that the first-ever state Bentley for the Queen would be built at Crewe.

"We are only just starting to realise the benefits of the investment in our business and the Crewe site by our parent company Volkswagen AG. The future for Bentley Motors is very exciting indeed."