GM sold 2.11 million vehicles in the third quarter, while Toyota's sales for the period fell 4 percent to 2.24 million. The results bring GM's total sales for January-September to 6.66 million vehicles compared with Toyota's 7.05 million.
GM said sales declines in the United States and Western Europe offset strong demand from emerging markets. Sales outside of the U.S. grew by 164,000 vehicles in the first nine months of the year.
Mike DiGiovanni, GM's executive director of global market and industry analysis, said the same economic woes that have resulted in steep drops in U.S. sales this year spread to western Europe during the recent quarter.
North American sales dropped 18.9 percent during the quarter, while overall European sales fell 12.3 percent.
DiGiovanni said that while sales growth in emerging markets may be slowing, it's still significant. GM reported third-quarter sales increases of 15.1 percent in Russia, 15.5 percent in Brazil, 12 percent in China and 5 percent in India.