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General Motors Co. said Tuesday it sold 2.42 million vehicles globally in the first quarter, up nearly 2 percent from the same three months in 2014.

The figure puts it slightly behind Volkswagen AG for the global sales crown. Volkswagen said it sold 2.49 million vehicles globally in the three months, up 1.8 percent. Toyota Motor Corp. has not released its sales figures yet, but a year ago the Japanese automaker sold 2.58 million vehicles in the three months, more than both GM or Volkswagen, giving it the sales lead.

The Detroit automaker said sales in its largest market, China, rose 9.4 percent, and sales in North America jumped 6.1 percent. GM said it is now reporting its deliveries to customers in China instead of wholesale deliveries in China. The company said the move brings it more in line with sales reporting for its other regions.

Sales in Europe slid 13.6 percent on some nearly 46,000 vehicles. The company is phasing out sales of most Chevrolets in Europe to focus more on Opel/Vauxhall brands, which combined saw sales up 3 percent in Europe in the first quarter.

GM also saw sales fall in its South America region, down 15 percent, and its International Operations region, down 2.3 percent.

"The momentum our brands are building in China, the U.S. and Western Europe more than offset difficult conditions in some other large markets like Russia and Brazil," GM CEO Mary Barra said in a statement.

China was GM's top sales market, where it sold more than 961,000 vehicles in the first quarter, followed by the United States at more than 684,000 vehicles. U.S. sales rose 5.3 percent from the same months in 2014. Other top markets for GM include Brazil, where sales of nearly 112,000 vehicles fell 18.2 percent; United Kingdom, where GM sold more than 86,000 vehicles, up 1.2 percent; and Germany, where the automaker sold more than 55,000 vehicles, down 2.7 percent.

GM said sales for its largest brand, Chevrolet, fell 4.3 percent in the first quarter. Global sales for its Cadillac luxury brand rose 2.5 percent, led by a 23 percent increase in China; Buick brand sales were up 7.6 percent globally. GMC brand sales also rose 14.5 percent.

mburden@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-2319

Twitter.com/MBurden_DN

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