Non-Detroit Three Automakers Already Sell More Cars in North America, and Soon They'll Make More

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

Detroit’s dominance in the domestic automotive sphere continues to erode. Whereas the manufacturing hub, home to Ford, General Motors, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, once churned out the bulk of vehicles built — and sold — in the United States, times have changed.

The former Big Three automakers no longer hold the majority market share in the U.S. (in 2016 it was 44.9 percent), necessitating a name demotion to “Detroit Three.” From Silicon Valley to the Midwest and South, a diverse group of automakers is busily assembling cars and SUVs for a population with very wide-ranging tastes. We’ve long since become used to the idea that many Hyundais now hail from Alabama, several Subarus come from Indiana, Honda models grow in Ohio, and BMWs arrive from South Carolina with a Southern drawl.

Now, one industry watcher claims the Detroit Three won’t even finish the year as the majority builder of North American-made vehicles.

According to IHS Markit, Detroit will soon hand over the crown to its domestic and foreign rivals, Bloomberg reports.

In a briefing held today on the outskirts of that city, IHS Markit analyst Joe Langley predicted a total of 8.6 million vehicles produced in North America by Ford, GM, and FCA in 2017, just a hair below the 8.7 million vehicles forecasted for all other manufacturers. The rival group includes Tesla, as well as German, Japanese, and Korean automakers.

With several automakers — Toyota, Mercedes-Ben z, and Volvo, for example — announcing production expansions in just the past week, the gap will only grow after this year’s anticipated turning point. It’s truly Detroit vs. Everybody, and everybody’s winning. By 2024, IHS Markit seed the Detroit Three building 8.1 million vehicles in North America, compared to 9.8 million units assembled by the competition.

It’s been a long time coming. After the disappearance of such automakers as Studebaker, Packard, and Kaiser in the 1950s and ’60s, as well as the purchase of AMC by Chrysler in the 1980s, Detroit’s production dominance soon sprouted cracks. Japanese manufacturers arrived on masse in the ’80s, setting up shop in states unfriendly to the United Auto Workers. The Germans and Koreans eventually followed.

Since the recession, all three Detroit automakers have begun looking outward for opportunities, hoping to gain market share outside North America’s borders. At the same time, the number of models sent to Mexico for low-cost production has increased, all in the interest of profitability.

Unfortunately for the Detroit Three, Mexico has also welcomed other manufacturers with open arms.

[Image: Bryan Debus/ Flickr]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • ToddAtlasF1 ToddAtlasF1 on Sep 28, 2017

    I couldn't care any less about who makes cars in North America or in what quantity. I do care about who makes cars in the United States of America. Lets see those numbers, and only those numbers. I suspect it will just go to show the UAW three to be even further behind other US employers.

  • Amca Amca on Sep 29, 2017

    Just for perspective: GM, at its peak, had something approaching 50% market share.

  • James Hendricks The depreciation on the Turbo S is going to be epic!
  • VoGhost Key phrase: "The EV market has grown." Yup, EV sales are up yet again, contrary to what nearly every article on the topic has been claiming. It's almost as if the press gets 30% of ad revenues from oil companies and legacy ICE OEMs.
  • Leonard Ostrander Daniel J, you are making the assertion. It's up to you to produce the evidence.
  • VoGhost I remember all those years when the brilliant TTAC commenters told me over and over how easy it was for legacy automakers to switch to making EVs, and that Tesla was due to be crushed by them in just a few months.
  • D "smaller vehicles" - sorry, that's way too much common sense! Americans won't go along because clever marketing convinced us our egos need big@ss trucks, which give auto manufacturers the profit margin they want, and everybody feels vulnerable now unless they too have a huge vehicle. Lower speed limits could help, but no politician wants to push that losing policy. We'll just go on building more lanes and driving faster and faster behind our vehicle's tinted privacy glass. Visions of Slim Pickens riding a big black jacked up truck out of a B-52.