Toyota Motor is considering launching a three-quarter-ton pickup truck into the highly profitable niche in the United States truck business dominated by Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Monday.

The report said Toyota is in the final phase of evaluating the move, which would see it compete competition with models such as the Ford F-250 and heavy-duty Chevy Silverado trucks. These trucks, beefier and more powerful than half-ton pickups, typically sell for more than $30,000, the WSJ said.

The WSJ said the consideration expands the push by Japan's big three vehicle makers - Toyota, Honda and Nissan Motor - into the American light-truck market, long a bastion of big profit for the Detroit-based makers.

Toyota USA spokesman Mike Michels told the Wall Street Journal  that the company is " considering" developing a three-quarter-ton pickup truck, but that nothing concrete has formally been decided. A senior executive told the paper that the company's US sales arm is lobbying hard for a three-quarter-ton truck for sale in North America.

The WSJ noted that Toyota already has a full-size pickup truck called the Tundra on sale in the US, but it is considered to be too small and underpowered to be a threat to Detroit's pickup trucks.

The report added that Toyota plans to enlarge the Tundra to make it more competitive by 2006 or 2007.

This month Nissan began selling the Titan, its first half-ton full-size truck while Honda is expected to start selling a new sport-utility-type truck, in the US next year, the Wall Street Journal said.