Historically, U.S. automakers have held both the majority of fleet and consumer sales stateside. According to new research provided by R.L. Polk and Co. the "Big Two and a Half" only holds one of those distinctions for the first time in U.S. history.

Foreign car manufacturers now account for 53% of consumer car sales through May of this year and that figure only stands to increase as the year progresses. Honda, Nissan, Hyundai and, of course, Toyota held a slim margin under U.S. manufacturers this time last year with 49% of the retail market, but most analysts have predicted this day would come sooner, rather than later.

Industry observers maintain that GM, Ford, and Chrysler's slipping numbers are due in large part to high gas prices, forcing consumers to seek out smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles traditionally offered by Japanese manufacturers. Others note that many foreign automakers have a better grasp on what U.S. consumers desire in a vehicle, with safety features, interior amenities and resale value topping the most wanted list.

Some dire soul searching is in order if the domestics stand a chance at regaining their previously held title. Especially considering that fleet sales are likely the next to go to their competitors in the east.

[Source: Detroit News]