DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co's (GM) global sales rose 4.6 percent in the first nine months of the year as strong third-quarter demand in the United States and China helped offset declines in Europe and South America, the company said on Thursday.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker had nine-month global sales of more than 7.25 million. That included a 5.5 percent increase in the third quarter and puts GM ahead of German rival Volkswagen AG (VOW3.DE).
Volkswagen's sales in the first nine months rose 4.8 percent to 7.03 million. However, that does not include the German automaker's Scania or MAN brands, which typically account for a combined 200,000 vehicle sales in a full year.
Toyota Motor Corp <7203.T>, which sold the most cars globally last year, has not yet released its global sales figures for the same period but was the leader through the first half.
Toyota's groupwide total includes sales at Daihatsu Motor Co Ltd <7262.T> and Hino Motors Ltd <7205.T>.
Last year, Toyota took back the title of the world's largest automaker from GM. The Japanese automaker held the global sales crown from 2008 through 2010 but fell to third place in 2011 after a U.S. recall crisis and a disrupted supply chain following an earthquake and tsunami in Japan and floods in Thailand.
GM's international operations, including the world's largest auto market, China, had a nine-month sales increase of 7.5 percent to almost 2.85 million vehicles. GM is a market share leader in China.
The Detroit company's sales in North America increased 7.3 percent in the first nine months to almost 2.45 million vehicles.
Sales were down 2.4 percent in Europe in that period to more than 1.18 million vehicles, and off 2.1 percent in South America to almost 770,000 vehicles.
(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)