General Motors said worldwide sales fell 10.8 percent in 2008, ending its 77-year claim as the worlds largest automaker.
GM sold 8.36 million vehicles last year, putting it about 616,000 units behind the 8.97 million reported by Toyota Motor Corp. Tuesday.
The 2008 results cap an advance by Toyota that has seen the Japanese automaker overcome a 3 million deficit since the start of the decade, fueled by gains in the United States. In 2008, both automakers posted sales declines.
At the time of the announcement, just before 9 a.m. ET today, GM defined itself on its Web site as the annual global industry sales leader for 77 years.
GM President Fritz Henderson had said the previous evening that retaining the title wasnt terribly important, to him. He told the Automotive News World Congress that its more critical that GM, which hasnt posted a profit since 2004 and has tapped $4 billion in U.S. loans to pay its bills, is strong financially.