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DETROIT, July 16 (Reuters) - General Motors Co's global sales rose almost 4 percent in the first six months of the year as strong demand in the United States and China outweighed sliding sales in Europe, the company said on Tuesday.
The No. 1 U.S. automaker sold more than 4.85 million cars and light trucks in the first half as demand rose at least 7 percent in each of its two largest regions - International Operations, which includes China, and North America.
The results kept GM ahead of Germany's Volkswagen AG in the race for bragging rights as the world's largest automaker. VW reported last week that its six-month sales rose 5.5 percent to 4.7 million vehicles.
Toyota Motor Corp, which sold the most cars globally last year, has not yet released its first-half global sales figures.
Last year, Toyota took back the title of world's largest automaker from GM as the Japanese automaker's 9.75 million sales topped GM (9.28 million) and VW (9.07 million). Toyota held the global sales crown from 2008 through 2010 but fell to third place in 2011 due to negative publicity after a U.S. recall crisis and a disrupted supply chain following an earthquake in Japan and floods in Thailand.
GM's smaller U.S. rival, Ford Motor Co, is due to release its six-month global sales figures later this month.
GM's International Operations, including the world's largest auto market, China, had a first-half sales rise of 7 percent to almost 1.92 million vehicles. In China, where GM is the market-share leader, sales jumped almost 11 percent to a record 1.57 million vehicles.
Sales in North America increased 7.7 percent to more than 1.64 million vehicles. U.S. sales rose 8 percent to 1.42 million.
Sales fell 6.5 percent in Europe to more than 797,000 vehicles, and were down 1 percent in South America to almost 497,000.
GM said its mainstream Chevrolet brand had a 1.4 percent rise in first-half global sales, to 2.5 million cars and trucks. Chevy sales rose in its three largest markets: the United States (up 5.6 percent to more to more than 1 million vehicles), China (up 6.1 percent to 322,000) and Brazil (up 5.1 percent to 305,000).
For VW, sales of its namesake brand rise 4.4 percent globally to 2.91 million vehicles in the first half.