GM Sales Up Worldwide, But Down in North America

General Motors said strong growth in Latin America, Asia and other emerging markets lifted global sales by 0.4 percent in the second quarter, according to preliminary sales figures released Thursday.

GM said it sold 2.405 million vehicles in April-June, up from 2.395 million in the second quarter last year.

For the first quarter, Toyota Motorsaid it sold more cars and trucks than GM did for the first time ever. Second-quarter global sales from Japanese automakers, including Toyota, are expected to be released later this month.

"We're on track to have our second-best annual sales performance in our almost 100-year history," John Middlebrook, GM's vice president for global sales, said in a statement.

GM's sales in Latin America, Africa and the Middle East grew 19.7 percent, while sales in Asia rose 8.2 percent. Sales in Europe rose 4.7 percent, while sales in North America fell 7 percent.

"Three of four regions are on record paces this year," Paul Ballew, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis, said in a conference call with reporters and industry analysts.

GM said second-quarter vehicle sales outside the U.S. were a record 1.39 million, accounting for about 58 percent of GM's global sales. That's up nearly 8 percent compared with the second quarter of 2006.

U.S. sales, Ballew noted, continued to feel the effects of high gas prices and the weak housing market. GM also is weaning itself from low-profit sales to rental car companies.

But GM noted that its Saturn brand continued to grow in the U.S. and Canada, up nearly 27 percent based in part on sales of the Sky roadster, the Aura mid-sized car and the Outlook crossover.

GM shares fell 27 cents to $35.73 in morning trading Thursday.

GM has been the world's largest automaker for 76 years.

The title of the world's No. 1 automaker depends on annual worldwide vehicle production, rather than sales, so that distinction won't be determined until production numbers are released for the entire year.