Online consumer car buyers guide Edmunds.com is predicting that May US car sales will top 1.5 million units, a 1.6% increase over May 2004 when adjusted for the number of selling days.

Although the upcoming holiday weekend could surprise analysts, Edmunds predicts that Chrysler is expected to show a 3.1% year-over-year increase in sales, while Ford and General Motors are expected to slip 2.2% and 4.8%, respectively. Nissan and Toyota are each expected to post gains of over 17%, while Honda should have an increase of 2.4%.

"The three big Japanese automakers currently have great strength in each of their marques, while the domestic Big Three are burdened with many weak units," said Edmunds analyst Jesse Toprak. "In fact, the Cadillac, Chrysler and Mercury brands are the only domestic nameplates we expect will have May 2005 sales outpace May 2004."

In addition to other troubles, domestic automakers are suffering because larger SUVs are falling out of favour. Year to date, domestic automakers have sold 86% of all large SUVs. However, in April, large SUVs hit their lowest overall market share since March 2003. When May sales numbers are released, compact cars and compact SUVs should post further gains while midsize and large SUVs are expected to fall again. These trends are both seasonal and consistent with changing consumer preferences.