But US automakers did better than expected while Japanese brands did worse.
This says something about the low expectations surrounding Detroit: Chrysler reports sales down by nearly half from a year ago, GM's fall almost a third, Ford's drop a quarter -- and yet people are cheering.
Those declines in May weren't as bad as analysts had expected and did represent a decided rise from awful numbers in April. So maybe one-month sales results are more important than the year-over-year results. Or maybe down is the new flat. Or maybe it's that Toyota and Honda did worse than Ford and GM.
In any case, part of the answer lies in the deep pessimism with which many Americans view the Big Three – and US manufacturing more generally. Outside of union and company circles, there's been little enthusiasm for the Obama administration's bailout of GM and the help it has afforded Chrysler.