Get ready for a new leader in U.S. sales of cars and light trucks. And it won't be an American brand.
In a remarkable 2007, the Toyota brand passed the Ford brand in sales and was No. 2 behind Chevrolet. Not too far behind, either.
Toyota is poised to take over the top spot, probably this year.
Japan's juggernaut is charging past one sales milestone after another. Japan's Big 3 all roared ahead in 2007 while the Detroit 3 lost more ground.
Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A Inc., including Lexus and Scion, left Ford Motor Co. in the dust last year. Toyota Motor is now No. 2 in the United States behind General Motors, and it took another massive chunk out of GM's U.S. leadership in 2007.
In fact, Toyota has cut GM's advantage by 1 million units in the past two years and is now just over a million units behind.
Could Toyota catch GM by the end of the decade? Not necessarily, says Jesse Toprak of Edmunds.com.
"Toyota will grow at a slower pace," Toprak says. "And GM will not lose as much market share over the next three years."
Nissan was back on track in 2007, and Honda added market share. Altogether, Japan's brands gained 2.1 share points in 2007, to 36.9 percent.
But for the Detroit 3 it was another dismal year in a dreadful decade. Detroit 3 sales were down 7.1 percent in a market off 2.5 percent to 16.2 million. Combined share fell from 53.7 percent in 2006 to 51.1 percent in 2007.
The Ford brand collapsed. The brand's overall sales fell 13.6 percent, and Ford car sales plummeted 27.6 percent. Lots of Detroit 3 brands got hammered in 2007, but the Ford brand shed more market share than the losses of Chevrolet, Pontiac, Buick and Chrysler combined.
In 2006, Ford was first for the 19th time in 20 years; Chevrolet won in 2005. Chevy's win in 2007 probably was the last hurrah for the American kingpins. Chevy outpaced Toyota by only 88,885 sales. If you include Scion with Toyota, Toyota is already the leader by more than 40,000 units.