Besting Japan

It happened so suddenly. Detroit's Big Three, which spent most of the 1980s being hammered by Japan, saw their fortunes rally last year. Thanks to heavy investment, savvy market research, and a dose of government protection, Yankee carmakers are winning back market share for the first time in nearly a decade. There's a kicker, too. This year, a soaring yen has made Japanese cars more expensive, boosting the Big Three's share of the U.S. auto and light-truck market in the first quarter to 74.9%--2.7% more than in 1992.

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