Auto makers sold 6.12 million vehicles worldwide in February, a 5.2% decline from year-ago, according to WardsAuto data.

The falloff came as deliveries declined 8.5% in the Asia-Pacific region and 7.7% in Europe.

China sales were expected to underperform year-ago due to the timing of annual holiday celebrations. But the 13% drop in February volume to 1.37 million vehicles was less than expected.

Sales in Japan, the region’s next-biggest market, slipped 8.1%, but Thailand again pushed past South Korea to claim the No.3 Asia-Pacific spot, with sales surging 42.6% over year-ago.

The region’s 2.74 million total deliveries accounted for 44.8% of global volume in February, down nearly five share points from January, when demand in China swelled above 2 million units.

Russia surpassed Germany in sales by fewer than 200 units to take the No.1 position in Europe with 219,000 deliveries, up 0.5% from year-ago. The German market posted an 11% drop in February.

France and Italy continued to reflect the region’s ongoing debt crisis, with sales plunging 12.1% and 18.5%, respectively. The U.K. (up 7.3%) and Turkey (up 23.1%) were among the region’s few bright spots, as total deliveries fell 7.7% to 1.27 million units, making up 20.7% of worldwide vehicle sales.

South America finished down 2% from year-ago on unit sales of 394,000. The shortfall, driven by a 5.6% drop in Brazil and 30.8% decline in Venezuela, was offset partially by year-over-year improvements in Argentina (up 9.2%) and some smaller markets.

The relatively small year-over-year decline lifted South America’s global market share to 6.4% from 6.2% in like-2012.

North America was the only region to experience year-over-year growth in February, with deliveries rising 3.2% to 1.4 million units, accounting for nearly 23% of world sales.

U.S. volume rose 3.4%, combining with Mexico sales growth (7.8%) to offset a 3.8% market decline in Canada.

February’s results brought year-to-date worldwide deliveries to 12.9 million units, up 4.1% from like-2012.

jsousanis@wardsauto.com