Muscle Car Wars: Mustang Leads, Challenger Outsells Camaro

muscle cars

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. So, which coupe is to blame for the lower sales numbers?

Look no further than 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 for five consecutive years, it now appears certain that 2016 will be the second consecutive year in which the Mustang easily outsells the Chevrolet Camaro.

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 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.

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.

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