The current economic environment in the United States is hurting all auto makers these days, even mighty Toyota, which was once considered immune to so-called market realities. Though its overall performance last year would be considered a stellar achievement for any other automaker, Toyota's 28% profit plunge in the fourth quarter of 2007 points to an expected 27% drop in annual profits in 2008. If Toyota's revised forecast proves accurate, 2008 would break a nine-year stretch of profit growth. In addition to the slowing U.S. market, Toyota also cites high material prices, the worldwide credit crunch and a strong yen as contributing factors in its mild downturn.

Toyota's expected profit drop is certainly newsworthy, but we just have to wonder how the money-losing American car companies will cope in the U.S. market with the same issues. While sales of cars are gaining strength, the SUV and truck markets are sinking with what could be Titanic-like implications for the truck-heavy lines from Ford, Chrysler and GM.

[Source: Toyota]