By on December 6, 2016

2017 Chevrolet Camaro V6 V8 1LE - Image: General Motors

Well, that was short-lived. After somewhat positive, very incentive-fueled results for the Chevrolet Camaro in September and October, November’s numbers told a very different story.

General Motors’ underwhelming launch of the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro produced significantly fewer sales in 2016 than the old Camaro managed in its final year. Camaro sales through the first eight months of 2016 were down 15 percent, year-over-year. But GM then threw down the incentive gauntlet in September with massive discounts, intending to clear an inventory glut.

It worked. Sort of. The Chevrolet Camaro outsold the Ford Mustang in September — and again in October — but inventory levels scarcely decreased. Autumn simply isn’t the time to sell large numbers of pony cars, even if the Camaro attracted more buyers thanks to average discounts of $4,700 per car.

Regardless, that two-month Camaro win streak turned out to be a two-month blip. General Motors scaled back Camaro incentives in November 2016. Consequently, Camaro volume declined, the Camaro was once again handily outsold by the Ford Mustang, and there are now 177 days of Camaro supply across America.

From $4,700 per Camaro in October 2016, GM provided “just” $3,508 of discounts per Camaro in November 2016. As a result, GM reported only 4,893 total U.S. Camaro sales last month, an 8-percent year-over-year decrease and the lowest monthly total for the Camaro in two full years.

Ford Mustang volume decreased, as well, but that 15-percent year-over-year drop translated to 6,196 November sales. The Mustang’s November pony car victory — its first since August but its 23rd in the last 25 months — drove up the Ford’s U.S. year-to-date sales lead over the Camaro to 33,163 units with one month remaining on the calendar.

2017 Ford Mustang - Image: Ford

In calendar year 2015, with the new Mustang all the rage and the Camaro at the end of its fifth-gen tenure, the Mustang outsold the Camaro 44,847 units. Between 2010 and 2014, the Camaro outsold the Mustang by an annual average of nearly 6,800 units.

Dodge Challenger sales are down 4 percent to 59,176 units in 2016, which is on pace to be the first year since the nameplate’s return that Challenger sales won’t improve, year-over-year. Challengers were discounted by an average of $3,649 per vehicle in November, according to J.D. Power PIN data. Ford’s average per-Mustang incentive was $2,723.

With an incentive cutback and decreasing sales in November, Chevrolet’s already high level of Camaro inventory further ballooned, just as we approach a season in which Camaro, Mustang, and Challenger sales flag. December figures should be slightly higher than November’s, but January and February sales are expected to decrease dramatically. January is historically the lowest-volume month of the year for Camaro sales; January and February account for 17 percent of the calendar but roughly 14 percent of annual Camaro volume.

Yet it’s as we approach these months that GM’s Camaro inventory has expanded to well in excess of 30,000 units, very nearly six months of supply.

In other words, if General Motors stopped building the Camaro at its Lansing, Michigan, assembly plant today, there are enough Camaros in stock at dealers and on their way to dealers to make it to the end of May 2017.

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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76 Comments on “GM Could Stop Building Camaros for Six Months and It Still Wouldn’t Run Out...”


  • avatar
    FormerFF

    I guess there just aren’t enough guys willing to get the obligatory mullet that goes with Camaro ownership.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Have you priced one lately? An SS with a few options is $60,000. A V6 or turbo 4 well equipped nears $50,000. They have priced themselves right out of the market. Potential buyers price them out, then realize they can go buy a C class, 4-series or A5 for the same (or less) $$$ and they take that route instead.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Alpha! Alpha! Alpha!

    Tora! Tora! Tora!

    CTS, ATS & Camaro have zeee Germans playing defense!

    CT6 comes with length and a 2.0T for 60k to 88k.

    Melody Lee & Uwe are going to have the best “Holiday” bonus ever.

  • avatar
    PRNDLOL

    That’s okay, see Car and Driver just put it on their 10 Best list again for 2017 so sales should take off any day now.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I think it’s more like GM paid C&D to include the Camaro on their 10 best list…

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        10 Best Cars Modeled After an Omaha Beach Concrete Bunker…

        1. Chevrolet Camaro

        • 0 avatar
          Caboose

          True, but does that explain the lack of sales? The 5th gen sold just fine and it had crap visibility, too.

          I drove 5th and 6th gen cars (both V6s) back-to-back about two months ago; the newer car is better in every way except visibility (in which it’s no worse).

          I just don’t get it. …which maybe qualifies me to be a GM exec on the Camaro program.

          • 0 avatar
            raph

            IMO the derivative styling on the sixth gen F-car is what is killing sales. Ask the uninitiated what they see and they will most likely tell you its the same thing as last year with just a few differences.

            The Mustang in comparison even 3 model years out of the gate just looks fresh.

            Then you have the other things like cheaper price of entry (rebates excluded) and overall more friendly day to day car.

            The Camaro really doesn’t start to shine until the bench racing starts and crushes the Mustang in the numbers and the value for that level of performance – for a person solely dedicated to the performance aspects of the car and day to day livability and looks are secondary you can get an SS 1LE car that will meet and possibly beat the regular GT350 Mustang at a 10-15k discount making it a helluva deal).

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    Someone needs to explain why manufacturers are so eager to go after volume over profit. There is no way the added sales are worth these incentives.

    • 0 avatar
      jjster6

      Because car manufacturers have huge fixed costs to cover. It costs a billion dollars to tool up to make 1 car or 250,000. If you make 1 car you have to allocate that $1 billion to one car. Hence a cost of $1 billion plus all the variable costs (labor, materials, etc). If you make 250,000 cars that fixed cost allocation is $400 per car.

      You can’t figure out how much a car costs to make without knowing how many you will make. Therefore, as long as the sales price exceeds the variable cost, you are better off than not producing. You are contributing to those already sunk and spent fixed costs. The fixed costs are spent before you even produce 1 car.

      That is why incentives are a very logical response.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Or GM could have put decent materials inside the Camaro versus the 2001-era Kia plastics, given it better visibility, priced it more realistically to begin with (to avoid engaging in incentive he!!), and built up a reputation for quality vehicles, and credible, respectable dealerships!

        • 0 avatar
          jjster6

          Thanks DW. I try to give a reasonable answer to a reasonable question and you jump in with your nonsense. Get off the internet and get to therapy (no sarcasm).

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            The fundamental question and problem is that GM has a sh!tload of Camaros it can’t sell in adequate levels with or without heavy incentives in order to prevent further increases in dealership channels.

            How was your response a specific one addressing this problem?

            You seem to want to engage in industry-speak (platform development costs, etc.) to somehow establish your own expertise when this Camaro inventory/production imbalance problem can be addressed using a much more basic analysis (i.e. mine).

          • 0 avatar
            jjster6

            Wow DW. Just wow. Please re-read sportyaccordy’s question.

            And if a fundamental knowledge of the way fixed and variable costs behave in manufacturing enterprise is “industry-speak” then consider me guilty. I can imagine the other nonsense concepts you think people waste their time with; gravity, math, physics…

            I feel sorry for you. I guess someone with so little understanding of the way the world works needs to resort to anger and fear. You might find that if you listened to some other viewpoints and critically studied the world you would see how narrow your view is.

          • 0 avatar
            DeadWeight

            You miss the point, grango.

            I understand platform/architecture development costs and how such major costs can be efficiently (or not) amortized.

            Your dive into that area is irrelevant to the problem with the Camaro, to wit, GM is producing them at a far faster rather than they are selling, and has done so for quite some time now, and even high incentives have not allowed GM to correct for their inventory imbalance.

            Full stop.

          • 0 avatar
            OldManPants

            “You miss the point, grango.”

            Crap! You had me scrolling all over thinking I’d missed one of his gems.

            Take not that name in vain.

        • 0 avatar
          Big Al from Oz

          DeadWeight,
          GM has a problem with the quality of vehicle interiors.

          Its the same here in Australia.

          The Mustang is only slightly better.

      • 0 avatar
        MrKiwi

        For what it’s worth, I know zero about the car industry, but jjster6 gives a sound explanation of the theory. It’s not specific to this industry; it’s basic Economics (as I learned it in my MBA course). Key point:

        “As long as the sales price exceeds the variable cost, you are better off than not producing.”

        I think this is a very good answer to the question “explain why manufacturers are so eager to go after volume over profit”.

        Not trying to incite a comment war, but I did want to give my thumbs up to jjster6’s explanation, which was very well written.

    • 0 avatar
      MoDo

      Sure there is, figuring there is damn near $30,000 gross profit in each car, they can put $15,000 on the hood and still make bank.

      • 0 avatar
        raph

        IIRC the margin on a new car is less than 10% and might not even be half that.

        • 0 avatar
          DeadWeight

          I seem to recall an industry white paper pegging industry-wide vehicle sale net margins at under 3% using real, bona-fide GAAP accounting measures.

          This was an across-the-board average, so most companies could very well be losing money on a net basis on many vehicles lines as other more profitable ones saved the day and allowed profitability (e.g. pickup truck & SUV profits subsidizing small and midsize passenger car losses).

  • avatar
    Zackman

    That’ll teach ’em. Perhaps Chevy got the message and will put windows back in the Camaro.

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    When GM turns the Camaro into a 4 door FWD crossover , remember this article.

    My liquor cabinets already stocked.

  • avatar
    turbo_awd

    I just want an extra 4-6 inches of rear legroom.. I.e. Chevy SS, but at Camaro prices, with Camaro options (i.e. track pack, etc)..

    Alternatively, how much discount should I be able to get on a ’16 Camaro V8 with track pack right now? $10k off?

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      I’d shoot for 23% off MSRP or walk immediately (no sarcasm).

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        p.s. – That’s a true 23% off MSRP *OTD* which would include everything but state sales tax (so no paying for any additional fees/costs except sales tax due state and new plate/tag fee if required).

    • 0 avatar
      TMA1

      $10K off of a $50K Camaro still leaves you with an overpriced car.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Completely agree.

        That 23% off MSRP I threw out should probably be closer to 28%.

        Once one gets into the upper 40s or 50k for a Camaro, there’s almost no reason not to step up to a C7 Vette (assuming one is willing to buy GM products, the C7 Vette is one of the few intelligent product decisions left to make) for around 54-55k new with multimode exhaust and in naturally aspirated form.

        The Camaro is a real pig full of cheap interior fail and ergonomic he!! compared to the Vette, and will have far worse resale value.

        • 0 avatar
          PrincipalDan

          Once one gets into the upper 40s or 50k for a Camaro, there’s almost no reason not to step up to a C7 Vette…

          The one gentleman that I knew who owned a Camaro (previous gen SS model) traded for a Corvette when the new model was released. I’d imagine that was his thinking. He’s one of those guys with enough money he could drive whatever he pleases.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Challengers give you that extra legroom but then everyone B&Ms about how it’s too big and heavy.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Even though I’ve been calling for a 3-month shutdown, (now it should be 4 months), GM won’t do it due to embarrassment.

    Incentives won’t bring this inventory down.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    It’s like old times on TTAC! we got DW blaming Caddy for the Camaro pricing/interior mismatch, Ruggles defending having the lower 25% subsidize the middle 50%’s car purchases, and ongoing monitoring of GM’s inventory levels. WHEeEeeee! (this is all a good thing for me.)

  • avatar
    carguy

    I think GM may be having a Nissan 370Z moment.

    There is nothing wrong with the car’s performance and handling. However, the combination of mild evolutionary styling makeover and poor day to day livability (visibility, interior materials etc) is killing Camaro sales.

  • avatar
    Jerome10

    I know this is somewhat of a niche car, but I am getting nearly certain we are at a top in annual automotive sales.

    Its becoming pretty clear to me that consumers more or less have what they want, and the only stuff that moves well is the stuff with heavy incentives. Take those incentives away and the sales fall off a cliff. Inventories way up. Production stoppages to get inventory in line.

    Exactly like what happened back before the bubble popped in 07-08. And consumers are back to being conditioned to just wait another month and their 20% off MSRP deal will be right back.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      The difference is that while Camaro inventory is around 6 months, Mustang inventory is around 2 months.

      Regardless of sales volume, GM isn’t managing its inventory well by continuing to fill the pipeline with cars they’ll have to give away.

      • 0 avatar
        Click REPLY to reload page

        This situation is just something we will have to sit back and watch for its entertainment value. Since GM is doing nothing to fix the situation, it will just get worse before it gets better. Maybe they can ask Marchionne what his plans are for all those 200s. It’s sort of like the Trump administration – the next four years are going to be nuts, but there’s nothing we can do about it, just sit back and hope no one gets nuked.

  • avatar
    dwford

    I predict that the Camaro will be one of those quickly traded cars. Once you get over the “I bought a Camaro!” or the “It was SO much cheaper than the Mustang!” you are left with a car that is a pain to daily drive and pretty much useless. Kind of like the Hyundai Veloster. Everyone loved it when they bought it, but they got traded back in pretty quickly.

  • avatar
    mikey

    Got a question. Does the Lansing plant have an other vehicles running with the Camaro on the same assembly line ?

    • 0 avatar
      Drzhivago138

      ATS and CTS are in the same plant, but I don’t know if that means they’re on the same line.

      (Edit–This picture implies that they are: http://www.gannett-cdn.com/-mm-/2779b99153b91ec440ed70ec3c482e210d3a6aad/c=178-0-3954-2832&r=x404&c=534×401/local/-/media/2016/01/04/DetroitNews/B99342243Z.1_20160104175956_000_GHROGA7L.1-0.jpg)

  • avatar
    mikey

    180 days of “field stock” was unheard of in my day. Anything past 90 days, usually meant we were looking at a week or two, pulled out of the schedule. We were running “B” Chev and “B” American, and Canadian Pontiac. It wasn’t unusual for GM to juggle the model mix ratio.

    I’m thinking, these days, considering , automation, and supplier logistics, adjusting line speed, and model mix would present a whole lot more challenges.

  • avatar
    mikey

    The CTS and the ATS are not exactly flying off the lots. I would be willing to bet GM will pull 6-8 weeks out of the schedule from now till mid May.

  • avatar
    mikey

    i’m sure they have changed things now. “Days of inventory” were calculated by looking at a recent , 10 day sales period vs field stock. Mid November till late February, were never strong sales periods.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    To me it seems GM is willing to chase volume over profit. Isn’t this approach what screwed GM nearly a decade ago?

    Drop the Camaro and redesign a cheaper version.

    • 0 avatar
      shaker

      At least the 1997 Camaro that I owned (RS, V6, 5-spd) was an affordable, (21k), sporty (ground effects, chromed alloys, wide tires), and practical (the hatchback and folding rear seat) entry-level car. The hatch made trips to the laundromat and slightly bulky purchases possible, so it could be your only car as a single person.

      This new Camaro is almost useless for carrying anything other than a purse or a briefcase. (I don’t think you could get a beanbag chair in that trunk).

      People that bought Camaros in volume were low-to-middle income single people- not track rats looking for a cheap weekend toy.

  • avatar
    xcalibur255

    Overproduction combined with high incentives to artificially prop up a sales growth target that’s not sustainable……… all for the purpose of being able to report a single live or die number on Wall Street that affects their stock price. Hmmmmm, now where have we heard this story before?

    It’s not just the Camaro, GM is doing this across all their models right now.

    We Americans sure do have short memories.

  • avatar
    Rochester

    I swear, when GM actually makes a profit, it’s despite their own best efforts. The Camaro, for all its curb appeal, is a poorly designed car. It always has been.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    They go down the same line.

    Very few plants have separate lines for separate models

  • avatar
    LS1Fan

    On second though,GM might actually be playing the long game with this.

    They didn’t build the Camaro to the performance and Alpha platform quality for kicks. This of course increased the cost of the car and in the short term sales are gonna suck accordingly.

    BUT….it’s chess moves. GM aims to place the Camaro upmarket into where the Corvette currently sits; no niche performance vehicle is going to sell mass volume at that level regardless of how big the windows are .

    Why? Because the Vette doesn’t have any performance room to grow using the F/R design it’s on. Either the Corvette evolves -meaning mid engine – or it’s gonna get left in the dust by the competition,which includes some high spec Mustangs. Cutting the Camaro and leaving the Vette where it is means seeing Americas Soorts Car get dusted by three box Chryslers.

    Making the Vette mid engine means leaving the Joe Everyman Sports Car market, which is where the modern Camaro comes in. Remember that back in the day ,Corvette vs BMW M was the comparison made. Now it’s Alpha Platform Camaro vs BMW. That’s not a coincidence.

    Before the pitchfork crowd finds me again, note that the marginal improvements between Vette generations isn’t as dramatic over the last decade. A C6 Vette isn’t so much worse then the C7 that the latter is a must buy in the way a C5 was over the C4 back in 1997. A F/R C8 can’t top a C7 enough in performance or interior quality to be worth the shekels new over the outgoing model, not when even a used C6 Z06 is still relevant on the track . The Corvette has to move upmarket or stagnate .

    As a mid engine car they can take on McLaren potentially. Screw the haters, a mid engine Vette built in Kentucky that can lay the hurt on an MP12 is worth making.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    I recently rented one of these while I was in San Diego. I was excited to see how it compared to the previous generation. And while I certainly found it to be an improvement, ultimately, the lack of visibility killed it for me. I could never buy one.

    And it’s a shame, because the 6 cylinder engine is great, the interior is better (still not where it should be), the gauges are nice, the handling is good, the steering isn’t bad (could use more feedback). The automatic was fine, though I’d look for a stick.

    I’m in the market for another “fun” car. But because I can’t see out of it, I won’t consider the Camaro.

  • avatar
    stanczyk

    Messy-chaotic, boring and dated Exterior-design is a major problem here…

    This car, with “full-core” Vette-power and “Alpha-platform” handling.. has better “mechanical characteristics” than a very successful (globally) Ford Mustang ..

    GM sold a lot of previous gen. Camaros .. even if it was heavy, had poor visibility .. and crappy interior .. but .. it had muscular “heavy-weight”..”hot-wheel” design …

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