Now the Camaro Is Getting Trounced by the Mustang and Beaten by Challenger, Too

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain
now the camaro is getting trounced by the mustang i and i beaten by challenger

U.S. sales of America’s three pony-muscle car coupes slid 2 percent in July 2016 despite meaningful gains from both the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger.

Blame?

Cast it all in the direction of the Chevrolet Camaro, sales of which plunged 26 percent, a loss of nearly 2,000 sales for Chevrolet dealers compared with July 2015.

Camaro sales declined in 7 of the last 12 months, diving by 9,517 units during a span of three consecutive year-over-year decreases between May and July. After the Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in five consecutive years, it now appears certain that 2016 will be the second consecutive year in which the Mustang easily outsells the Chevrolet Camaro.

One might even say the Mustang is going to win, “by a lot.”

Indeed, the question now appears to be whether the Camaro, a genuine volume player for General Motors since returning from hiatus in fifth-generation form in 2009, will even outsell the Dodge Challenger in 2016. It’s not such a far-fetched idea. In each of the last three months, the Camaro’s harsh declines opened up an opportunity for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ Dodge muscle coupe to outperform the traditionally much more popular Camaro. And it has.

U.S. Camaro volume, down 37 percent to 16,316 sales since May, is 1,459 units shy of the Challenger’s total from the same period.

Like the Camaro, Challenger sales are decreasing in 2016. Unlike the Camaro, the Challenger isn’t an all-new car. Also unlike the Camaro, Challenger volume is down by a modest 6 percent. The overall car market is shrinking more rapidly than the Challenger’s rate of decline.

Compared with the first seven months of 2015, Camaro sales are down 15 percent, a drop of 7,708 units.

At Ford, meanwhile, Mustang volume is likewise decreasing at the same rate of decline experienced by the Challenger. But July may have marked a turnaround, as Mustang sales jumped 13 percent to 9,565 units, expanding the Mustang’s year-to-date lead over the Camaro to more than 30,000 units through seven months. At the current pace, 2016 could end with the Mustang 50,000 sales ahead of the Camaro in the United States alone.

There are a handful of reasons for the Camaro’s fall from grace. The cars available at dealers in the early launch period were often higher-priced, higher-performing versions, cars which didn’t directly line up against the Mustangs readily available at Ford dealers. The Camaro is now regarded by many to be the dynamically superior sports car, but it’s hampered by poor visibility and exterior styling that almost entirely hides the Camaro’s newness.

GM, of course, pointed to the Camaro’s fleet de-emphasis in our June coverage. As General Motors moves to produce a smaller chunk of its volume with sales to daily rental companies, Ford has taken advantage of the gap in the market to claim a larger slice of that fleet demand without sorely endangering resale values because of the, dare we say it, iconic nature of the nameplate.

Yet Ford’s U.S. retail Mustang volume is still higher, and the in-roads the Mustang is making outside of North America stand in stark contrast to the North America-centric nature of the Camaro and Challenger.

The Challenger isn’t the modern answer to the sportscar that’s now found at Chevrolet and Ford, yet Dodge is certainly within reach of turning 2016 into the Challenger’s eighth consecutive year of U.S. sales growth.

Regardless, long gone are the days when Dodge sold 3,000 Challengers per month.

At least temporarily, also gone are the days in which the Camaro routinely outsold its two main rivals.

[Images: FCA, General Motors, Ford; Graph: © 2016 Timothy Cain/The Truth About Cars]

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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  • Sid SB Sid SB on Aug 09, 2016

    That just dented the notion of GM chasing margin but if they have inventory backing up and a new model year on the way, what kind choices did they have? Increased fleet sales? Would be interesting to see the break down of the turbo's, V6 and V8's and even the trim level, for these muscle cars suspect there are some interesting details there. What maybe makes the GM vs FCA predicament worse, is that if you added the Camaro and SS sales numbers together and compare to the Challenger and Charger combined numbers, because the Charger comes in V6 and 3 V8 engines (plus trims), suspect FCA is ahead in this blue collar in this relatively affordable RWD battle. Shows that models that win car magazine comparisons, like Mazda 3 and Camaro are not always the sales leaders; cars that have lousy comparison sometimes get great sales, market forces in action.

  • Grant404 Grant404 on Aug 14, 2016

    I currently own an '03 Mustang convertible that I bought new and has been a fair weather garage queen from day one (only 35k miles), but I regularly cruise through Ford and Chevy dealers on weekends (after hours) to look at Mustangs and Camaros. Even though it makes no sense to buy a new one when my existing Mustang is not really even broken in, I'm not completely opposed to the idea of a new convertible. Although I should be a natural Camaro customer since I grew up in a loyal Chevy family (back in the days when that meant something) and my first car in the '70s was a '69 Camaro SS with an L78 396, I have never liked the new Camaro. The styling seems cartoonish to me, almost like a caricature of the '69, and the dash and instrument pod have been horrendous. I like the new '16 model a little better, especially from certain angles it looks much more in proportion, but I still don't like the instrument cluster even though they've cleaned it up a bit. I also don't like the rear, especially the tail lights. It's like they spent all of their styling time and money on the front 90% of the car and kind of lost interest in the last 10%. It doesn't match. Why does GM seem to have so much trouble with rear end styling (C7 Corvette)? The main thing that blows me off the lot, however, are the prices. Wow. There are certain things I don't like about the '16 Mustang's styling too, but overall and especially for the money, there is no way I could justify a Camaro over a Mustang.

  • The Oracle I say let the clunkers stay on the roads.
  • Jpolicke Twenty-three grand for a basket case? And it has '66 wheel covers and gas cap so who knows what else isn't original?
  • Scott Can't be a real 1965 Stang as all of those are nothing but a pile of rust that MIGHT be car shaped by now.
  • 56m65711446 So, the engineers/designers that brought us the Pinto are still working at Ford!
  • Spookiness I dig it. The colors are already available on the CX-50. The terracotta is like a nice saddle brown. The non-turbo Carbon Edition has a bluish gray and a burgundy leather interior. A nice break from the typical relentless black and 50 shade of gray palette. Early CX-30's had some dark navy blue (armest, console, and parts of the door) but I guess that was just too weird and radical so they switched to all-black.I'd be fine with cloth in colors, leather is over-rated, but I'll never have an all-black interior in a car ever again.
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