An interesting article appeared in TheWall Street Journal last week that should, by rights, set Detroit's Big Three automakers to scratching their collective piston heads. Nissan Motor Co. (NASDAQ:NSANY) has unveiled its long-term strategy for U.S. market auto sales and the details are intriguing. While acknowledging Americans' love of big trucks and oversize SUVs with the new Titan full-size pickup and its cousin, the Armada SUV, Nissan plans to focus its future offerings in the subcompact car market.

Rival island automaker Toyota's (NYSE:TM) success with its Scion mini-cars hasn't gone unnoticed, and Nissan is answering Toyota's move in kind, aiming to introduce two new mini-models in North America by 2007. Smaller than Nissan's current smallest offering, the Sentra, Nissan's Cube microvan and Match subcompact have already enjoyed some success, the former in Japan and the latter in Europe, where it is called the "Nissan Micra." Nissan feels that Americans' renewed infatuation with muscle cars and gas-guzzling SUVs will be short-lived in this era of high gasoline prices, and is planning to capitalize on the trend.

You don't hear much along those lines from Hummer-maker General Motors (NYSE:GM), Excursion-hawker Ford (NYSE:F), or Chrysler 300-seller DaimlerChrysler (NYSE:DCX). So perhaps the Big Three need to consider the following syllogism:

Premise 1: Japanese carmakers have been stealing U.S. market share for decades.

Premise 2: Two of the most successful Japanese carmakers are clearly focusing their energies on building and selling stylish, fuel-efficient econoboxes.

A Fool has to wonder: Is it really logical for Detroit to continue to focus on building gas guzzlers -- or are American automakers once again dooming themselves to lose the auto wars?

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Fool contributor Rich Smith is not a certified "car guy," so before he bought his truck last year, he consulted the experts on The Motley Fool's Buying and Maintaining a Car board. He owns no shares of any company mentioned in this article, but he does own a Chevy S-10 than consumes an inordinate amount of gasoline for its size.