BMW said its new 3 Series model should spur sales in the second half of 2012 after the group posted record sales of 1.67 million vehicles in 2011.

The world's largest maker of premium cars said worldwide sales of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce cars rose 14.2 percent last year, with sales in December alone up 11.9 percent to 158,125 vehicles.

Looking ahead, we want to continue to grow, with balanced sales growth across all continents, and we plan to remain the world's top selling premium automaker in 2012, board member Ian Robertson said in a statement.

He added the company would see momentum increase in the second half of the year due to the new BMW 3 series to be launched worldwide next month.

Separately, BMW's chief executive said he expected the carmaker to grow faster than the overall market in 2012, after entering the year with strong orders.

We're starting 2012 with a very good order book and very young model range ... this should provide some momentum, Norbert Reithofer told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Monday.

Reithofer said he was very optimistic about the U.S. market's growth prospects and that he expected it to return to pre-crisis levels in the future.

BMW brand sales rose 12.8 percent to 1,380 million vehicles, in 2011, also a sales record.

In December, a total of 128,182 vehicles were delivered, an increase of 10.9 percent over December 2010, with new BMW X3 model the frontrunner in terms of growth.

(Reporting by Christoph Steitz and Jonathan Gould; Editing by Hans-Juergen Peters)

(This story corrects second paragraph to show BMW is the world's largest maker of premium cars, not the world's largest carmaker)