The era of the Big Three automakers is ending, according to the Wall Street Journal. After 60 years of dominance in North America, General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler Group are seeing their collective market share steadily erode, with little hope that they can reverse the trend, according to a story in the Journal by Joseph B. White, Gregory L. White and Norihiko Shirouzu. The main cause of this untoward development -- foretold in 1998 by Chrysler's decision to abandon its independence and become part of German auto giant DaimlerChrysler AG -- is the huge and successful investment by foreign rivals in new North American factories and vehicles. Equally important, European and Asian manufacturers are making cars that many American consumers prefer, based on quality and technological sophistication. The Japanese gain a further advantage because their factories tend to run more efficiently, according to the Journal. And the strong dollar has accelerated the market shift by making foreign models effectively less expensive for American buyers. The once-unquestioned titans of Detroit remain major players on the global scene. Jarred from the complacency bred by record profits in the late 1990s, The Big Three all have shaken up their top managements recently and vow to battle back with renewed vigor. But as competition in the auto market has become truly international, it is highly unlikely that GM, Ford and Chrysler will ever regain the dominance that once allowed them to dictate which vehicles Americans bought and at what prices, according to the Journal. Forced to reshape themselves into smaller companies, GM, Ford and Chrysler will collaborate more extensively with Japanese and European rivals and simultaneously try to shed more of their own employees, the Journalpredicts. At the retail level, major dealer networks have acknowledged the new order by pushing foreign brands more aggressively. That tactic only hastens the decline of the Big Three, according to the Journal.