GM sales fall in North America

DETROIT - General Motors (GM) says it sold 2.42 million cars and trucks in the first three months of the year, keeping it slightly ahead of Volkswagen in the global sales race.

The Detroit automaker says its sales grew 2 percent worldwide from January through March. The company was led by 13 percent growth in China. But sales fell 2 percent in North America.

"We are very encouraged by our results in China, where we outperformed the industry, and in Europe, where Opel's sales and the economic outlook are improving at the same time," said GM President Dan Ammann in a statement.

GM said its sales in China set a record in the first quarter. The company had 11.1 percent of the global vehicle market, down two-tenths of a point from a year ago.

Sales leader Toyota has yet to release first quarter numbers but says it's on the way to selling 10.1 million vehicles this year. Volkswagen says it sold 2.4 million vehicles in the first quarter, up almost 6 percent. Toyota finished first last year with a record 9.98 million sales. GM finished second and VW third.

Analysts are scrutinizing GM's sales and financial results following the automaker's massive recall over faulty ignition switches and other parts. At least 13 deaths have been linked to the switch problem.

Data collected from dealers by J.D. Power and Associates show GM's U.S. sales fell 6.3 percent in the first five days of April compared with a year ago, while the overall market dropped just 0.3 percent.