DETROIT -- U.S. May sales are expected to follow a familiar pattern: General Motors and Ford Motor Co. will drop, and import brands will gain.
The overall market will stay healthy. According to Edmunds.com, total May vehicle sales will rise about 2 percent compared with May 2004.
David Healy, an analyst with Burnham Securities, sees a possible silver lining for GM. He expects that GM's U.S. car sales (excluding light trucks) will be up by as much as 4 percent for the month to 163,200. Ford Motor and Chrysler group car sales will fall by about 7 percent each in May, he says.
New models, such as the Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G6, will help GM, Healy says.
Edmunds.com, an auto consumer Web site, says Detroit automakers are hurt by their reliance on large SUVs, whose sales have been dropping recently because of high gasoline prices. The Big 3 hold 78.6 percent of the large SUV market in the United States.
Despite the clouds over Ford Motor Co. and GM, Jesse Toprak, an Edmunds.com analyst, expects some domestic brands to fare well. He says Cadillac, Chrysler and Mercury should boost U.S. sales in May.
Edmunds.com forecasts that GM's U.S. sales in May will drop about 5 percent compared with May 2004. It sees a 2 percent fall for Ford Motor. The research firm expects increases of 17.3 percent for Toyota Motor Corp., 17.8 percent for Nissan North America Inc., and 2.4 percent for American Honda Motor Co.
Edmunds.com predicts a 3 percent U.S. sales increase for the Chrysler group, and Merrill Lynch predicts a 2 percent increase.
Ford Motor, which said it is not changing any of its incentives, is optimistic that the Memorial Day holiday will spur sales.
"We had a pretty good March," says Steve Lyons, Ford Motor's group vice president of North America marketing, sales and service. "We beat our production program. The same was true in April. Somehow May doesn't seem to be yet quite as strong. Now, it's not over yet. And we all know that May has a lot to do with Memorial Day sales."
Amy Wilson contributed to this report
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