For the first time in almost 80 years, the world's largest automaker is not based in the United States.

General Motors said Wednesday its sales fell by about 11 percent in 2008, putting it firmly behind Japanese auto giant Toyota.

Toyota sold almost nine million vehicles in 2008, more than the 8.3 million sold by GM

GM President Fritz Henderson downplayed the change during an industry conference Tuesday.  He said he was more concerned about making the top U.S. automaker profitable again than about holding the title of world's largest carmaker.

GM recently received a more than $13 billion loan from the U.S. government.  GM had said without the loan it was in danger of collapsing.

GM blamed its declining sales on the economic recession and tight credit markets in North America and Europe.  

Toyota has also been hurt by the global economic downturn.  The auto giant announced Tuesday that its auto sales fell by four percent in 2008.

Despite slumping sales in much of the world, GM said it did sell a record number of vehicles in the Asian Pacific, Latin American, African and Middle Eastern markets.

Toyota has been gaining on GM for years.  In 2007, GM only outsold Toyota by about 3,000 vehicles. 


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.