By on September 12, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro

In response to disappointing sales of the new-for-2016 Chevrolet Camaro, General Motors revealed last week that it will cut prices of the 2017 model.

Although there are plenty of 2017 Camaros already available — all of which will benefit from the newly lowered price — the issue facing GM’s U.S. dealers now pertains to the number of 2016 Camaros on dealer lots. Of the roughly 27,000 Chevrolet Camaros in stock at dealers across America, according to Cars.com, 40 percent are MY2016s, the appeal for which decreases rapidly as more MY2017s become available.

This ballooning Camaro inventory, a 139-day supply heading into September 2016, was caused by a sharp decrease in Camaro demand with the launch of the all-new sixth-generation model, a subject we’ve explored frequently in the past. Through the first eight months of 2016, U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Camaro are down 15 percent.

But sales of the Camaro’s chief rival, the wildly more popular Ford Mustang, are falling, as well. Dodge Challenger sales are sliding, too.

From Ford to Chevrolet, however, there were big differences in expectations for calendar year 2016. While the Camaro is the new muscle car on the block, the Mustang is a year-old car which benefited from pent-up demand one year ago. The year-over-year comparison that reveals a 7-percent, 5,940-unit Mustang loss comes after Mustang sales spiked in 2015.

2016 Ford Mustang convertible California Special

“Mustang buyers know it’s coming and they wait for the new car,” Ford sales analyst Erich Merkle said of the launch of the sixth-generation Ford pony car. As a result, Mustang sales rose to an eight-year high in calendar year 2015, surging 48 percent compared with 2014.

We’ve seen the same kind of surge in the past, when the dramatically re-engineered fifth-generation Mustang produced a 24-percent jump in 2005 and continued to climb in 2006, free from rivals. Then, while remaining popular by the standards of sports cars, Mustang sales tailed off sharply in following years.

Mustang volume is tailing off, but not sharply, and not unsurprisingly. After all, there’s a new version of a long-time rival available in competing showrooms.

U.S. muscle car sales chart August 2016

Globally, meanwhile, Mustang sales are stronger than they’ve ever been, with an emphasis on foreign markets and even right-hand-drive markets that before did not exist.

TTAC asked Ford’s Merkle if that global emphasis is by any chance responsible for the U.S. downturn. No, there are enough Mustangs to go around in the United States.

“We’re always going to look to match production to demand,” Merkle says. And U.S. demand in 2016 is simply not as strong as it was at this stage of 2015.

2017 Dodge Challenger SRT 392

In August, specifically, Mustang volume plunged 17 percent to 8,299 units as Ford passenger car sales tumbled by more than a quarter. Chevrolet Camaro sales were down by a tenth to 5,604 units. Despite an 5-percent August uptick, Dodge Challenger sales, at 5,262 units, were slightly less numerous than Camaro sales. August was the first month since April that the Chevrolet Camaro managed to outsell the Dodge Challenger.

Year-to-date, the Ford Mustang is America’s 16th-best-selling car. The Camaro ranks 26th; the Challenger 30th. Combined, the trio sells slightly more often than the Nissan Sentra, not as often as the Ford Fusion.

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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59 Comments on “Chevrolet Camaro Sales Keep Falling, Ford Mustang And Dodge Challenger Sales Do, Too...”


  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    So what’s the xx-day supply of Mustangs and Challengers currently out there? That would give a bit more context.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    aint nothing that price wont fix.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    I believe this is more of an economic indicator than a product issue. For a lot of folks the Pony/muscle car is a 2nd car, especially in V8 trim. Everyone I know that has one this is the case, albeit small sample size of about 5 people. Election year so and so forth.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Yes, besides the *product* issues with the Camaro, these cars – and the pony car segment – may merely be leading indicators of the total market downturn we’re about to witness.

      Sine we’re now at “peak car”, some cars will tank faster than others.

      • 0 avatar
        Paragon

        I believe that SCE to AUX has nailed it. Especially in regards to the reference of a “total market downturn.” Quite a number of people on the Finance and Investing boards for several years have spoken that there will be a definite market downturn and collapse, bringing about a Second Great Depression far, far worse than the original. Few people disagree that there will be a HUGE market correction in the very near future. The current market is over-bought and over-priced. And while I sure don’t want to see it happen, I recognize that there is nothing any of us can to but be prepared for the worst, and yet hope for the best.

    • 0 avatar
      EMedPA

      Yup. If I had one of these (a Mustang GT, red please) it would be a weekend/fun car. I couldn’t bring myself to torture it with the drudgery of my daily commute.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        A Mustang GT makes the daily grind tolerable, especially if it’s a manual. At first I’d keep mine caged during the work week, then I started treating myself on Fridays to work. Eventually I said ‘Screw it, Everyday’!

        Besides, the battery would be dead by Friday night, even from brand new.

        • 0 avatar
          EMedPA

          I’d drive one to the closer of a the two sites I work at. There’s no way I’d park a really nice car in the jungle that passes for a parking garage. And upstate NY winters would not be kind to a Mustang.

        • 0 avatar
          Grant404

          That’s strange. This is the 14th summer for my Mustang convertible that I bought brand new, and it’s never been used as anything but a fair weather, pleasure use only garage queen. It averages only about 2k miles a year and sits in the garage every winter from the time the weather turns bad in the Midwest sometime in November until convertible weather returns in April, and is never on a battery tender. Sometimes even in the summer it sits in the garage for multiple weeks without being started, such as this past June when I was overseas for a month (ditto for my ’02 DD that sat in airport long-term parking for that month and started just fine when I came back). The Mustang has never needed a jump, and fourteen summers later still has the original Motorcraft battery it came with. If yours is/was dying after being parked for only a week, there’s a problem somewhere.

    • 0 avatar
      bd2

      Totally a product/packaging issue with the Camaro.

      A useless rear seat and even more difficult to see out of, along with the bump in price = fewer sales.

      That’s the Alpha platform (yes, it’s a great platform when it comes to handling, but too many compromises in other depts.) that just keeps on giving.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Pony car sales would instantly triple if they became 4-door CUVs.

  • avatar
    Willyam

    “Combined, the trio sells slightly more often than the Nissan Sentra, not as often as the Ford Fusion.”

    Yikes. Big numbers are a cold, sober beeyotch.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    Looking at the Wikipedia article, I found the sales numbers for the fourth generation Camaro. It looks like initial sales go up as the new model is released and then, as the first group of buyers are exhausted, the sales begin to dwindle.

    1993 39,103
    1994 119,799
    1995 122,738
    1996 61,362
    1997 60,202
    1998 54,026
    1999 42,098
    2000 45,461
    2001 29,009
    2002 41,776

    But still these later numbers for that generation are worse than the current model sales.

    And wow – check out those 1970s sales:

    1974 151,008
    1975 145,770
    1976 182,959
    1977 218,853
    1978 272,631
    1979 282,571

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      I think those big sales in ’77-’78 were bolstered by all the guys whose ’74 Camaros were completely rusted out and in need of replacement. Whereas the buyer of a new ’94 model was still driving it 8 years later.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “And wow – check out those 1970s sales”

      It gets even better when you add in the Firebird stats.

      GM sold almost 500K F-bodies in 1979.

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        I think it’s crazy to see how much economic influence the baby boomer generation has. You can literally trace their tastes and the time frame when they became economically independent of their parents.

        Quick, everyone buy up Mustang II’s and sh1tty 2nd generation Camaros… I promise they will quadruple in value 5 years from now when ‘they’ all retire and want their first pony car.

        • 0 avatar
          bumpy ii

          You’re about 5 years too late. Malaise-era ’70s garbage has been creeping upward recently. There is also the question of how many retiring boomers will have the money to overspend on malaise-era ’70s garbage.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            When did the malaise era hit the F-body. They still had decent product as late as 1974 with the 455 SD equipped Trans Am.

            GM and Ford I think gave uprops with the 73 cars ( evident in Mustang at least by the II )

            I can’t remember if 73 was,the last year for a big block Camaro???

            In any event the basic package was sound, much better handling cars compared to 1st Gen and IMO the early 2nd Gen F-bodies were the high water Mark in styling plus not nearly as played out as the 1969 Camaro.

        • 0 avatar
          Zackman

          My 2012 Impala will be my “old car”, because when I retire in 6 months, I’ll need money for important things. My time with old cars is long past. I don’t look back (except when I see an old pillarless hardtop, of course!)

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Did I just hear a bubble pop somewhere?

  • avatar
    philadlj

    It looks like the next-gen Camaro, Mustang and Challengers will have to be some kind of crossovers. I guess right now they look too much like sedans, so people are increasingly staying away.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      It would be difficult to mistake a Camaro or Mustang for a sedan, and if they became crossovers, they wouldn’t even BE Mustangs, Camaros, or Challengers (RWD Pony Cars), would they? But, they ARE oversized and heavy for being, essentially, 2-seaters (with the Camaro missing even a usefully sized/accessed trunk).

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        Can’t get that pony car style in something approaching 4 series size without aping the basic configuration of the a 4 series.

        People bitch about the size and weight of the Mustang and Camaro ( people calling the Challenger a pony car are just doing it because they need to neatly classify a competitor )

        But these cars are also pulling duty for the large personal cars of the 70’s ( t-bird, Monte Carlo, et al ) as well as thier pony car roots plus they have to have a lot of bandwidth from the base V6 or 4 pot all the way to the 650 horsepower ZL1 in this case and meet a relatively affordable price point ( again ZL1 is asking 62k for a 650 hp performamce car and meet all applicable safety regs).

        The common refrain is why do we need even a 435 horsepower GT when we could have a lighter smaller more nimble pony car with half the horsepower to which I’ll point out the milquetoast Toyobaru twins ( BRZ/FRS or whatever they are calling it ) which even the poorly selling Camaro can claim sales victory over.

        In any event with the Camaro at least your getting a car that is nothe really any larger or heavier than its 3rd and 4th gen predecessors with nearly the same weight and much better safety and all around performance. Also in some cases it is lighter than,its big block forebears which could tip the scales at almost two tons.

  • avatar
    ltcmgm78

    A lot of young drivers who would love a pony car can’t afford a new one equipped appropriately. Oh, and then there’s that insurance thing too. I think back in the Sixties, they were way more affordable. I see young kids driving anything Japanese or a Chevrolet Spark, if they have a new vehicle.

    • 0 avatar

      *A lot of young drivers who would love a CAR can’t afford a new one equipped appropriately.*

      I fixed the quote for you (not that yours is any less accurate).

    • 0 avatar
      Kenn

      Cars in the ’60s may have been more affordable only because wages were more in line with the cost of living. A summertime fast food job, for instance, could likely pay for the next year’s college tuition. As many have complained, increasing corporate profits over the last 30+ years have gone to an ever-smaller group at the top, with the rest struggling to merely keep up with inflation. I don’t believe the products themselves, adjusted for inflation (though with much greater content), are that much more costly, unless one goes overboard with luxury/tech options.

  • avatar
    dwbf11

    On Cars.com, the cheapest advertised SS within a 250 mile radius of the Detroit area is a 2016 2SS Coupe, offering 12K off the $46K sticker, before you negotiate. Even assuming I have to be a returning lessee, fresh out of the military and school, and work for GM, to qualify for that price, I bet the general public price is still below that. That’s wild.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      My experience with cars.com prices, at least for new inventory, is that “before you negotiate” really means “before you add back freight, doc fee, and two or three rebates that nobody qualifies for.”

  • avatar

    Maybe what’s happening is the folks test driving the 2017 Camaro simply can’t see the 2016 models–or anything else–out those windows.

  • avatar
    MrIcky

    IMHO- Muscle cars are ‘optimistic’ at their core. When you buy one, you are thinking “hey everythings all right”. You’ve kind of made it to some extent and you can afford to do something that doesn’t quite make sense and then put gas in it to boot.

    Right now there’s a lot of handwringing going on. Talking heads preaching about bubbles and a wierd-as-f election in 60 days, etc. I think the people who were going to buy cross-overs are still going to buy them because they are filled to the brim with rational (albeit flawed-just get the minivan) decision making. But the people who were going to make a fundamentally flawed decision are going to sit on their cash for a few months and see what happens.

    I’m glad I already have little bubble of optimism and no news station shall ever soil it’s radio.

  • avatar
    FormerFF

    Looking at Good Car Bad Car’s sporty car sales figures, it appears that the whole sporty car segment is struggling. Even Subaru saw a decline in WRX sales last month.

  • avatar

    The fact that the getting long in the tooth Challenger is keeping pace in sales with a brand new Camaro should be sounding off alarm bells at Chevy. Note to GM design staff: Next redesign, make your brand new Camaro look different from the outgoing model, model it after what I consider the best looking Camaro ever, the 1970 version, and for god sakes lower the beltline so you can see out of the damn thing.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    The cultures changed.

    The market segment of young males who bought these cars in bulk back in the 70s are rolling in lift kitted Raptors and the like.

    The modern “Alphuh Mail” car isn’t an impractical 2 door, but a 6000lb monstrosity with “2500” on the doors and Tapout stickers.

    That leaves rental car firms and die hard enthusiasts for customers, and the latter is a very niche segment.

    • 0 avatar
      runs_on_h8raide

      ^^^^^This x 100. I live where there’s no place at all to offroad. There are no mountains for hundreds of miles. No 1000 acre farms. Just massively congested freeways and biways. Seemingly every other vehicle is a RAM, Silverado or F150 in various bro-dozer flavors. They all drive like a-holes as well with flagrant disregard for all traffic laws.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      You’re usually wrong, but in this case you’re 100% right. The truck is now the vehicle of choice for those with more testosterone than sense. Sports and sporty cars are just sort of those things that grey-haired guys that like to show off their chest hair drive.

      Even the younger enthusiast demographic mostly prefers WRXes and the like to these cars.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Any thoughts on how long GM will shut down Camaro production this fall, which they are almost certain to do?

    I say 4 weeks, because GM isn’t brave enough to make it 10-12 weeks like it should be.

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      @ SCE to AUX…,I’m thinking with a Field Stock of a 100 plus days. , GM will will bring that number down to about 70 days. . Depending on what other vehicles , are run on the same.line? I can see GM scheduling 5-6 down weeks spread over 3 months .

      Another factor to consider ? It’s looking more than likely that GM St Catherine’s engine plant, will be on strike, next week..GM will need to do some schedule juggling , through out the corporation.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    Well, I think the US vehicle market has hit “peak vehicle” for a while. It had a good run while it lasted.

    I do know the real estate market in Australia can be read by watching apartment sales and values. Apartments usually lead an upswing in the real estate market which moves on to homes, etc. Then when the market turns in the opposite direction apartments are the first to show signs of the downturn.

    I wonder what vehicle in the US market can be used to gauge the market in a similar fashion?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      I think we’re already seeing it in full-size truck sales, and individual segment leaders like Camry, and mfg leaders like Toyota and Chevy.

      11 of the top 22 YTD sellers are showing a decline for the year.

      Default rates are rising, and used car prices are falling, which will make them more attractive to buyers. It could get ugly pretty soon for those mfrs with weak product and tenuous sales positions, like the Fiat and Chrysler brands.

      http://www.chicagotribune.com/classified/automotive/sc-auto-loans-delinquencies-0901-20160826-story.html

  • avatar
    seanx37

    The real problem is that there is no market for these cars.

    Once upon a time, a young guy got out of high school, and got his first real job. Probably some blue collar job. Or got out of the military. He wanted a Corvette, but couldn’t swing that. So he bought a Camaro, which was really the same price as boring cars. A few years later, he had a family, and moved on. To a Cutlass, or Monte Carlo.

    Now, these cars are $45k. And those blue collar jobs are long gone. And selling cell phones doesn’t pay enough for a new car.

    • 0 avatar
      Kenmore

      This right here. Emphatically.

      These cars were for the brief, glorious bubble when ordinary guys with ordinary skills could with diligence build a middle-class life for themselves and their families.

      That option has long been obsoleted.

    • 0 avatar
      mhoff29

      I think a factor could be that the 5th gen lifecycle was only 5 years and sold fairly well. People who really wanted a Camaro bought one and aren’t ready/able to trade their 5th gen yet(I have a 2014). Combine that with many of the things mentioned in earlier comments, plus the fact that the cars look so similar, and you have a recipe for slow sales.

  • avatar
    JohnAZ

    I sure would love to know what the sales figures are for the pony cars outside of North America.

    I know that the Mustang is outselling the Camaro at a rate of 3 to 1 in Canada, and it is rumored that it is outselling all of the other ‘sporty cars’ in Germany combined.

    Has anyone seen any numbers for Mustang sales in Europe and OZ?

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    People around the world love american pony/muscle cars because they’ve got an unique “american character”(.. Mustang’s sales is a proof of that) .. so there’s no need for them to become .. Crossovers >)

    GM have just screwed up in “design department” ..
    New generation automobile should be desirable .. and that means > cool and fresh look .. (just like Mustang .. ) ..
    .. and in Camaro’s case we’ve got a bad example of messy retro-futuristic design concept ..

    They would need to lower the price of Camaro to get closer to Mustang’s level ..
    .. and than start working on a brand “new clothes” to cover that .. not so bad (after all) sporty-Vette-engineering ..

    .. and than it will sell well.. >)

  • avatar
    nrd515

    GM screwed up bad on the ’17 Camaro, and the previous one too. It’s not a good looking car, it’s too expensive, and it’s not practical for much else but two people. My Challenger hauled my two now departed dogs in comfort for almost 3 years in the back seat, and it has this thing that Camaros don’t seem to have anymore, a trunk that holds an amazing amount of stuff. A hatch would be a good idea for the next one. A taller greenhouse and, well, making it good looking would be a couple of other improvements it needs in the future. Look at the 2nd gen and maybe the 3rd. How hard is it to make a decent looking Camaro? It seems to be something GM cannot do anymore.


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