The Automotive News Data Center, which publishes a widely quoted annual ranking of the world's automakers, said Japan's top carmaker outsold GM by about 128,000 units, with 8,808,000 units, when stripping out commercial vehicles built by a GM affiliate in China.
GM sold 8,679,860, the paper said.
The weekly paper credited the seven-seat microvan and other Wuling-brand vehicles to GM's local partner SAIC (Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp.) Motor, which owns 51 percent of the venture with GM and Liuzhou Wuling Automobile.
In its ranking, the data centre includes sales of a subsidiary in the total for the parent company with the majority stake.
Detroit-based GM, which has claimed the top spot for 76 years, had counted those vehicles, totalling 420,140 units in 2006, in its own tally, the paper said.
Toyota's own sales figures, which correspond with Automotive News' tally, include sales at units Daihatsu Motor Co. and Hino Motors Ltd.
Even by GM's count, global sales in the first quarter of 2007 fell 90,000 vehicles short of its Japanese rival's. Toyota is almost certain to take the lead for all of 2007 after projecting sales of 9.34 million units against GM's forecast of 9.2 million.