It should come as no surprise to even the casual observer that the light-truck market still belongs to the Big 3. But how solid is their lead over the Japanese? In 1996, domestic brands controlled 87% of the market. Looking at the numbers for the first half of 2005, domestic market share has dropped to 85%. Compare that with any other market segment, and it's clear that Ford, GM, and Dodge are doing something right (although relatively soft compact-truck sales also have a lot to do with this statistic). How well this holds up in the face of new competition from Toyota's upcoming Tundra remains to be seen, but Nissan's Titan has had minimal impact so far. Considering the strong sales in the "heavy-duty light truck" (3/4- and 1-ton models) segment in the past few years, there's clearly a desire from truck buyers for severe hauling capability, and that's a segment of the market that is free of outside competition. Whether buyers really need that capability is another question altogether, but then again automotive market trends have rarely been about actual needs.

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