DETROIT: Auto manufacturer General Motors, one of America's ailing 'Big Three' car makers, has fallen behind Toyota in terms of global sales, losing its top ranking after posting a greater decline than its Japanese rival in 2008.

GM reported sales totalling 8.35m vehicles worldwide in 2008, while Toyota, already the biggest auto maker by earnings, shifted 8.97m units globally.

Overall, GM posted an 11% sales decline in 2008, including a slip of 20% in the US and 7% in Europe, offsetting 3% growth from emerging markets in Asia Pacific, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East.

Toyota, by contrast, registered a 4% slip in sales last year, its first year-on-year decline in a decade.

Jonathan Browning, GM's vice president for global sales, says: "The challenges in the global financial markets, including credit tightening, the drop in commodity prices and economic uncertainty continue to negatively impact demand for new vehicles."

Data sourced from BBC Online (UK); additional content by WARC staff