Detroit is up. Japan is down. Toyota is losing market share and General Motors is awash in profits.
This is clearly not the same plot the auto industry has been following for the past few years. This is a paradigm change in an American auto industry accustomed to decades of tough times for Detroit.
"The renaissance of the Detroit 3 is well on the way," AutoNation CEO Mike Jackson told Automotive News last week. "The profit results, product lineup and consumers' opinion will allow the domestics to have market share growth for the second year in a row. We will see a remarkable recovery in market share as the domestics drive toward 50 percent."
Flash back just five years: Detroit was the City of Gloom. Market share dwindled year after year. Ford Motor Co. suffered from poor quality and botched vehicle launches. Chrysler Group's lousy performance was about to earn it a divorce and good-riddance from Germany's Daimler. At GM, the buzzards were circling in the guise of stock speculator Kirk Kerkorian.
All the while, the Japanese auto industry grew bigger, richer and more prominent in the United States. The term "Big 3" was retired in favor of "Detroit 3" to address the rise of Toyota Motor Corp.
Back to May 2011, and things are a little different. As in the-world-has-turned-upside-down different.
As the U.S. economy continues to recover, the Detroit companies are well positioned to profit from rebounding auto sales. The Japanese Big 3, meanwhile, can't exploit that growth. They're choked by a dramatic production collapse stemming from the March 11 earthquake.
GM and Ford Motor Co. are now making boatloads of money, and death-threatened Chrysler Group which just reported its first quarterly profit in five years, is soliciting money from the private sector to repay government loans. Chrysler even said it's running out of room for the 1,000 engineers it's adding at its headquarters in Auburn Hills, Mich.
In April, Detroit's market share was 46.5 percent, up 1.5 points from a year ago. Japanese brands were at 35.5, down 3.4 points.
Toyota and Nissan Motor Co. expect to lose money for the next six months. In the United States, Japanese brand dealers are running out of inventory as the benefits of a U.S. recovery are passing them by.
Could a new reordering of the industry be under way?
Japanese automakers often have overcome adversity in North America. But at the moment they have a very full plate.
Last week, American Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel informed Honda's dealers by letter that Honda's "overall production volume will be at significantly reduced levels as we continue production adjustments through the summer months."
Consoling the dealers for the loss of sales, Mendel said, "You have overcome significant challenges throughout the years and yet, in the long run, you have all prospered.
"We will work our way through this difficult time and we will all be stronger in the end," he wrote.