Toyota pushed Chrysler into third place in the US car sales league last month as demand for Detroit's gas-guzzling monsters slumped in the teeth of price rises that have seen petrol hit $3 a gallon.
All three big domestic manufacturers lost ground in an American market 4.2 per cent adrift in April.
Chrysler, the US unit of Germany's DaimlerChrysler group which also includes Mercedes-Benz and Maybach, suffered an eight per cent fall while General Motors was down 11 per cent and Ford by seven per cent.
Toyota, in contrast, gained 4.5 per cent to win a 15 per cent share of the market, behind GM's 23 per cent and Ford's 17 per cent but ahead of Chrysler's 13 per cent.
Sales of trucks and truck-based sport utility vehicles (SUVs), Detroit's big money earners, have plunged in recent months as Americans come to terms with a virtual doubling of petrol prices.
The Big Three are doing better with their more fuelefficient new generation saloon cars but are seeing Asian manufacturers such as Toyota and Honda bite ever deeper into a market they once dominated.
Detroit's slower sales immediately sparked a fresh round of consumer incentives such as interest-free financing offers yesterday.
Last month's figures yielded adjusted annualised sales of 16.7 million units compared with 17.2 million this time last year.
Chrysler, which has out-spent its competitors on incentives and discounts this year, announced zero-per cent financing for a range of models, including its aging Dodge Ram truck line.
Ford is also offering interest-free loans for a period of five years on some of its SUVs, including the Explorer and Mountaineer, and some analysts said it would have to step up incentives on its pickup trucks as well.
Toyota posted record sales in April led by demand for its redesigned Camry and a strong showing by its Yaris small car.
"The market for lower-priced, higher-mileage vehicles is showing strength, as are hybrids," Toyota Motor Sales president Jim Press said.
"Record oil prices have a way of reminding us of how close to the cliff we're living."
Jesse Toprak, an analyst at Edmunds.com., said: "I think the moral of the month was that the more gas-efficient models did well."
GM left its overall production forecast unchanged at 1.2 million units for the second quarter.
"We do need to see sales - and we expect to see sales strengthen as we get into May and June," GM sales analyst Paul Ballew said.
Sales of Ford's best-selling F-Series pickups fell by nearly ten per cent. Ford sales analyst George Pipas said higher petrol prices might have caused potential truck buyers to defer purchases.
But he also said the market for large SUVs appeared to be shrinking more rapidly than the company had anticipated and was on track for a double-digit percentage decline in 2006.
Meanwhile yesterday, it was claimed in Tokyo that Toyota's global sales will hit 10.3 million by 2010 - three million more than last year.