In January we brought you news of Toyota's predicted surpassing of Chrysler in North American output in 2009, and nearly two years ago we reported on the Detroit 3 slipping below 50% market share in the U.S. Now the trend continues, with the Detroit 3's North American car output slipping below 60% for the first time in 2008.

The American carmakers' slide in output can be tied in part to the earlier market share milestone, but the generally down car market and 2008's high fuel prices were also responsible. Companies such as Honda, which produces a wide-range of fuel-thrifty vehicles, rose in total North American output from 9.3% to 11%, reports Automotive News. Toyota, already much larger than Honda, saw a smaller percentage rise from 10.8% to 11.2%.

The end result: American carmakers built 7,494,259 cars in North America in 2008, down 21.5% from 2007's total figures, and accounting for just 59.1% of the total output. In 2007, the Detroit 3 accounted for 63% of the cars built in North America.

Whether the expected slow market in 2009 will continue to push American car output down or whether new models, technological innovation and continued low fuel prices will help the Detroit 3 regain ground lost in 2008, it's certain that things are changing at a fundamental level for the world's largest car market.