The Big 3 are facing declining market share, having gone from 62% in 1999 to 54% in 2004, according to R.L. Polk. During the same time period, European car registration held relatively steady, while Asian vehicles surged from 31% to 39%. The problem for the Big 3 is that demographic trends are running against them. First, the Big 3 do poorly along the coastal states, where the majority of population growth is slated to take place over the next 25 years. Indeed, in the five fastest-growing states, the Big 3 market share is already below 50%. Second, imports do significantly better than domestics with Hispanics, which is the largest-growing ethic group in the US. And finally, as we've seen, young people tend to prefer imports. So how long will it take for the Big 3 to drop below 50%? Their employee-discount promotions may have bought them another year or two, but the sales data suggests that they're not taking sales away from imports. I think it's premature to say that it'll occur before the end of this year, but it could very well happen by the close of 2006.


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