The rise of foreign automakers in North America gained huge momentum during the dark days of the recession, accelerating the decline of Detroit 3 dominance.
Today 39 percent of all auto company employees in North America work for companies other than the Detroit 3, according to an Automotive News survey. That's up from 25 percent in 2005 -- the last time we counted -- and 15 percent in 2000.
The totals include hourly and salaried workers in all departments, including captive finance companies.
The surge of Asian and European carmakers began in earnest 31 years ago when Honda launched production in Marysville, Ohio, at the first Japanese car plant in the United States. A year later Nissan began building cars in Smyrna, Tenn., and the North American industry has undergone a steady transformation ever since.
But it is no longer a slow transformation.
Overall, carmaker employment in North America is down by 104,524 jobs since 2005. Yet Asian and European companies added 28,654 jobs during that stretch as they built plants, installed r&d centers and put in other facilities in the United States, Mexico and Canada.
Nondomestic automakers have opened seven assembly plants in North America in the eight-year-span, while the Detroit 3 closed 21.
In the first quarter of this year, transplants accounted for 46 percent of North American vehicle production, up from 31 percent in the first quarter of 2005 and 22 percent in the same period of 2000.
IHS Automotive analyst Michael Jackson predicts that by 2017 nondomestic carmakers will account for half of total North American output.
"They'll be neck and neck," said Jackson.
The Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Mich., says the addition and expansion of Asian and European factories in Mexico soon could push capacity for non-Detroit 3 companies above that of the Detroit 3. But CAR says non-Detroit 3 employment isn't likely to be surpassed because of GM, Ford and Chrysler's substantial product development and r&d activity in North America.
CAR expects the Detroit 3 to add 14,000 jobs in the United States in the next four years, bringing their U.S. head count to 201,000 workers.