Nissan Motor's premium brand Infiniti sold more than 230,000 vehicles globally in 2016, a 7 percent annual rise, Infiniti said on Wednesday, a record year for a marque that trails rivals in the increasingly crowded premium market.

The brand distantly lags German luxury competitors like BMW AG, which can sell almost as many vehicles in a single month, and second-tier luxury leaders like Toyota's Lexus, which sells at least twice as many cars each year.

Infiniti annual sales grew 4 percent year-on-year in the United States, its largest market, to more than 138,300, while China sales rose 3 percent to 41,590.

In December, Infiniti sold 27,200 vehicles globally.