GM Says First-Half Worldwide Sales Rose 3.9%

General Motors Co. said its global first-half sales rose 3.9 percent to 4.85 million vehicles, helped by gains in China and the U.S. as the automaker vies with Toyota Motor Corp. and Volkswagen AG for the top spot.

Small cars such as the Sail in China and the Onix in Brazil and the sell-down of the Silverado pickup that’s being replaced by a redesigned version this year bolstered Chevrolet, the Detroit-based company’s largest brand, according to a statement today. The brand’s first-half sales increased 1.4 percent from a year earlier to a record 2.5 million.

“Chevrolet is in the midst of the most aggressive new product roll-out in the brand’s history,” Alan Batey, senior vice president of the brand worldwide, said in the statement. He was named to the post last month as GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson pursues a unified global vision for Chevrolet.

GM, the largest U.S. automaker, faces increased pressure to remain No. 2 globally, ahead of Volkswagen and behind Toyota. GM outsold Volkswagen in China during the first half, with 1.57 million deliveries to the German automaker’s 1.54 million, and also boosted U.S. sales by 8 percent to 1.42 million.

Toyota was the leader in the January-through-March quarter, with 2.43 million sales to GM’s 2.36 million and Wolfsburg, Germany-based VW’s 2.27 million. Toyota, based in Toyota City, Japan, hasn’t released sales results for the April-through-June period yet. GM continued to lead VW, which on July 12 reported first-half sales of 4.7 million, a 5.6 percent gain.

Toyota retook the annual global lead from GM in 2012 as the Japanese automaker recovered from Asian natural disasters the previous year.

GM fell 0.9 percent to $36.18 at the close in New York. The shares have gained 25 percent this year, compared with an 18 percent increase for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index.