What do you call them?
There's the "Big 2" and the "Big 3" and the "Detroit 3." Going a step further, there's the "Big 6," possibly the "Big 7," and there's even support for the "Global 8."
When I entered this business some 51 years ago, it was simple. The Big 3 (General Motors, Ford and Chrysler) was the only group worthy of mention. American Motors and Studebaker-Packard were minimal players.
Imports, aside from Volkswagen, weren't worth counting. When they became a factor in the late 1950s, the segment was known as VW and the 57 dwarfs.
The "Big 3" designation served us well until 1998, when Chrysler Corp. was taken over by a German company. After the dust cleared, many reporting services and publications, including Automotive News, continued to use "Big 3." The Chrysler group replaced the defunct Chrysler Corp., and we argued that Chrysler was still the third-biggest seller in this country.
Now, even that excuse has vanished. Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. (Toyota-Lexus-Scion) has outsold the Chrysler group (Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep) in the last three months and shows no sign of relinquishing the No. 3 spot in sales.