May was a so-so month for car and light-truck sales, down 5.9 percent from last year because of a 12.1 percent dip by General Motors and an 11.5 percent slide by struggling Ford Motor Co. GM and Ford were down 97,486 sales; the entire industry was off 94,474. The GM-Ford numbers include their European subsidiaries.
Market share tumbled 1.9 percentage points for GM (26.4 percent in May) and 1.4 points for Ford (21.8 percent). It was the lowest of the year for GM.
Despite the GM and Ford losses, May sales numbered 1,510,876, second highest of the year. They were 8,000 less than in March, 2002's best month.
The Chrysler group, helped by strong sales of minivans, posted a 4.4 percent sales gain over last May. The Japanese fell 1.6 percent, and the Europeans dipped 1.3 percent. Kia and Hyundai were up nicely, but an 81 percent loss by bedeviled Daewoo held the Koreans' gain to 2.2 percent.
For GM, the Chevrolet Cavalier and Pontiac Sunfire were the only bright spots on the car side. Aside from the Cadillac Escalade, there were no bright spots among GM's carryover trucks; the best-selling Chevy Silverado pickup plunged 23 percent below the year-ago month. The May distress brought higher incentives for June on GM pickups, sport-utilities and mid-sized cars. (See Incentive Watch on Page 42.)
Ford Motor had nothing to brag about, either in cars or trucks.