Sales of U.S. light vehicles are slowing slightly in May, running 1 to 2 percent below sales for May of last year,according to J.D. Power and Associates.New light-vehicle sales in May are projected to register a 16.4 million-unitseasonally adjusted annualized rate (SAAR), based on Power InformationNetwork (PIN) retail sales data from the first two weeks of the month.Light-vehicle sales in May 2001 came in at a 16.5 million SAAR.With retail sales softening, actual units sold in May are expected to reach1.577 million, according to J.D. Power and Associates."We expect that slowing retail sales will be offset by only moderatedeclines in fleet sales compared with the substantial declines seen in theearly months of the year," said Dr. Robert Schnorbus, chief economist atJ.D. Power and Associates. "Fleet sales were very weak last quarter.However, rental companies are already signaling their intent to increasepurchases."Despite the dip in total sales in May from April's strong performance, J.D.Power and Associates says it is keeping its 2002 calendar-year forecast at 16.5million units."We anticipate that there may be a few minor bumps in coming months, butoverall 2002 will be another very strong sales year," Schnorbus said.At the segment level, luxury cars, SUVs and compact cars continue toexperience strong sales, showing the greatest gains compared with a yearago. Midsize and sports cars have struggled all year. "As has been the pattern for some time, Big Three sales appear to be laggingbehind those of foreign automakers in May," Schnorbus said. "So far, onlythe Asians are likely to experience year-over-year gains this month and eventhose gains could be modest." J.D. Power and Associates' sales forecasts are derived from a joint effortbetween its Global Forecasting Department and Power Information Network(PIN), a division of J.D. Power and Associates that gathers new-vehicleretail transaction data from more than 5,000 participating auto franchisesin 23 U.S. markets.Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is aglobal marketing information services firm operating in key business sectorsincluding market research, forecasting, consulting, training and customersatisfaction.