The Detroit giant, struggling in the face of tough economic conditions in North America and fierce competition, remained behind Japanese-based Toyota, which reported sales of 2.236 million vehicles in the quarter. GM, the longtime global leader, fell behind Toyota in the first quarter of 2008.
GM said more than 60 percent of its sales during the third quarter were registered outside the United States.
"The U.S. market does continue to be challenging," said Mike DiGiovanni, GM's director of global market analysis. "But were still setting records in (Asia Pacific and Latin America)," he said.
"Our market share was up half a percent in Russia. We've exceeded market growth in Latin America and we gained market share in Asia Pacific. Our drop in (market share) is concentrated in North America," he said during a conference call with reporters and analysts.
Amid fierce economic pressures in the U.S. market, GM's North America sales slid 18.9 percent from a year ago. In Europe, similar problems prompted sales to fall 12.3 percent.
GM's sales in Latin America increased 3.4 percent with help from a 15 percent sales gain in Brazil. Sales in GM's Asia-Pacific region grew 2.6 percent, boosted by a 12 percent increase in China and a 5.0 percent in increase in India during the July-September period, DiGiovanni said.
Sales of 1.286 million vehicles outside the U.S. accounted for nearly 61 percent of GM's total global sales volume compared with just over 56 percent a year ago, GM reported.
DiGiovanni also said that the economy in North America was starting to bottom out and the U.S. economy would begin to show signs of positive growth in 2009.
"The dollar is stronger, businesses have lean inventories. Inflation isn’t a problem," he said.
Referring to the U.S. government’s $700 billion bailout of the financial sector, DiGiovanni said, "Government action has increased liquidity. There have been some marginal buyers compromised by tight credit."
DiGiovanni, however, declined to comment specifically on GM's reported request for $10 billion in financial assistance from the U.S. Treasury to help finance a merger with Chrysler LLC, which is now under discussion.