GM Wants (Needs?) to Figure Out How to Sell More Chevrolet Camaros
There’s more than one reason the sixth-generation Chevrolet Camaro has failed to live up to the fifth-gen Camaro’s U.S. marketplace success.
First, the drama of the (quite possibly) superior sixth-gen Camaro’s styling is diminished by the fact that it looks so very much like the fifth-gen car. To the casual muscle car buyer — of which there have to be tens of thousands of it’s going to be the high-volume sports car it was — it’s certainly not obvious that this is even an all-new car.
Then there’s the fact that the sixth-gen Camaro also continues the fifth-gen’s visibility trend: there is none. Added to that, GM always intended to sell fewer Camaros to daily rental fleets when the sixth-gen car arrived for the 2016 model year.
In the end, however, it’s always down to money. Not only is the Chevrolet Camaro a costly ticket, but Camaros are also packaged in a way that shrinks appeal at the affordable end of the spectrum.
According to GM’s North American boss Mark Reuss, the company wants to fix that, though it’s not yet clear what the remedy is.
As sales of the Dodge Challenger rise slightly in 2017 and the segment-leading Ford Mustang’s volume nosedives, Chevrolet Camaro volume is essentially flat, falling by roughly 150 units per month, on average, through the first seven months of 2017.
But that’s a follow-up to 2016, when Camaro volume plunged to the lowest full-year total since the nameplate returned from the grave. General Motors averaged 83,000 annual Camaro sales between 2010 and 2015 but sold fewer than 73,000 in 2016 and is on pace for fewer than 71,000 in 2017.
“I think we’ve got opportunities at the very low end of the Camaro range,” Mark Reuss says, “and some remix of some of the V8 options on it so we don’t force people to buy all the options with a V8, just to get a V8.” According to Automotive News, Reuss did not delve into the details of potential Camaro changes at the at the August 10 unveiling of the NASCAR Camaro, and GM’s official line is that the company is “exploring a bunch of opportunities.”
The 2018 Chevrolet Camaro’s base price is $26,900, including destination, only $415 more than the least costly 2018 Ford Mustang. But because there are no base-like trims when it comes to the hi-po Camaros, the base price for the V8-engined Camaro SS is a lofty $37,995, $2,000 more than the V8-engined Ford Mustang GT even with the 2018 Mustang GT’s price jump (and $3,905 more than the V8-engined 2017 Dodge Challenger R/T.)
A “basic” Camaro SS includes numerous standard features and add-ons not associated with basic non-V8 Camaros, such as Brembo brakes, a rear spoiler, 20-inch wheels, chunkier rear tires, and an 8-inch (rather than 7-inch) touchscreen. Could a feature reduction be in the cards, a decontenting that might bring the Camaro’s base price down to $34,995, undercutting the Mustang GT?
On the flip side, there are some items that aren’t even available on non-V8 Camaros, such as magnetic ride control and performance suspension.
All of this could be shuffled to bring Camaros into more affordable price spectrums. With a 2018 Ford Mustang soon to launch with some attention-grabbing features, GM may want to act sooner rather than later.
[Images: General Motors]
Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and Autofocus.ca and the founder and former editor of GoodCarBadCar.net. Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.
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The wheels look stupid on the Camaros in my town. 20"?!? The old guys are driving them around their neighbourhoods like they're breaking the engines in - at 1700 RPM.
I would be in the market for a Camaro next year, IF: 1. It looked good. I've never understood the whole basis for this and the last generations's looks. It's awful ugly. And why they continued the ugliness with the current generation car just totally amazes me, and not in a good way. All you need to get me back? Second gen styling, with a hatch. SOLD! 2. I'm not a fan of huge greenhouses, it was one of my constant complaints years ago that there was too much glass on many cars, but in this case, more glass would be an improvement, a big one. But don't go crazy. 3. I don't care all that much about the back seat, but make the next one, if there is one, a hatchback, or make the trunk usable. It's not hard. The Challenger gets it all right. Looks good, back seat is usable, and the trunk is huge. I use the trunk every day. My 2010 R/T is almost 7 years old and I plan on buying another one next year.