By Marcus Leach

Europe's biggest carmaker, Volkswagen, have announced record car sales for 2011, a 13.1% rise from the previous year.

The German-based firm sold 5.1 million cars worldwide, with Europe and China the biggest markets - 1.72 million vehicles being sold in each market.

“The Volkswagen Passenger Cars brand made major gains last year thanks to a fresh, innovative and environmentally-friendly model range," the Group Board Member for Sales, Christian Klingler, said in Wolfsburg on Friday.

"Our new vehicles such as the Passat, Jetta and Beetle, as well as the up!, have made an excellent start in difficult market conditions — conditions that will remain challenging in 2012 — and significantly strengthened Volkswagen’s competitive position."

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