This image was lost some time after publication.

Automotive News today is reporting some interesting numbers from the folks at RL Polk & Co. β€” during the first half of the year, the domestic brands on sale out in sunny Caly-fohr-nya accounted for only 31.4% of the state's retail registrations. Just as importantly, Toyota, the brand from the land of the rising sun, accounted for 26,7% of retail registrations. Setting aside George Clooney's Hollywood-love-fest at the Academy Awards earlier this year, the Ocean's 11/12 star did have one thing right β€” California helps to set trends for the country. But, unlike Clooneys public kissing of his own ass, the numbers actually say something a bit different than the standard Hollywood- ber-liberal line of "fuel economy is the reason people aren't buying trucks here β€” we buy hybrids...and then enjoy the smell of our own farts" Actually...

...the numbers indicate one of the biggest gainers in sales is from something more fuel-inefficient and just as environmentally destructive as a compact pickup truck from the Big Three β€” a compact pickup truck from Toyota. You see, contrary to what the mainstream media's been shouting from the rooftops, it ain't all peaches and cream and small compact cars that are increasingly getting the love from the state where bowers of flowers bloom in the sun β€” it's also the small pickups, which saw an increase in sales of just under 1.0%. Ok, you say, but doesn't Ford, GM and Dodge's market dominance in the sector mean they should be selling more of the general enthusiast sector pickups β€” what with the higher fuel economy and quality they've had within (remember the word within) the segment? You'd think wouldn't ya?

In reality the company getting the biggest boost in sales in the small pickup from the land of the rising sun, the Toyota Tacoma, which has now moved up to the #6 placement in the list of top ten best-selling vehicles where a sun-kissed miss said don't be late. But that's weird β€” the Toyota Tacoma gets worse gas mileage than other similarly-equipped small pickups built by the Big Three β€” why're they getting more sales? Wethinks maybe folks feel better buying the small pickups from a brand also selling the Prius, and hope that maybe if they carry one of the hybrids around with them in the truck bed, maybe the fuel economy will rub off on them in some way.

But one things for sure β€” if the Big Three don't figure out a way to attack that feeling emanating from the brand β€” it may still be the direction the country starts to move, and move fast. How funny would it be if in the rush to non-domestic brands, the American public ended up increasing the amount of gas used?

Toast on the West Coast (sub. req.) [Automotive News]

Gas Prices Up And Toyota's Prius Sales Down β€” Toyota's Back-Assward Supply/Demand Curve? [internal]