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The Camaro pounds the Mustang, Challenger in January

The sales numbers are in for January 2012 and as has generally been in the case over the past year, the Chevrolet Camaro very comfortably outsold the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger in the first month of the New Year.

The winter months are generally slow for the rear wheel drive performance car segment but all three of the legendary American muscle cars saw positive growth in January 2012. However, with an improvement of almost 20% over January 2011, the Chevrolet Camaro lead the segment in both sales and growth rate. It has been a surprisingly warm winter for most which could be helping the sales of these performance models but regardless of the cause – it looks like those predictions of the American muscle car dying off may have been a bit premature.

The Chevrolet Camaro Coupe and Convertible saw 5,709 new units leave the dealerships last month; an increase of 19.9% over the 4,763 units they sold in the first month of 2011. The Camaro lead in sales every month last year but one and with a strong start in 2012 – General Motors surely hopes to make this year the third straight year where the Camaro is the best selling muscle car in the US market. As production of the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 has officially begun, we can expect to see some increase in sales from that new super high performance model but with production numbers expected to be very low – there shouldn’t be all that much impact on their overall market share.

The Ford Mustang was second in terms of sales volume and growth in January 2012, moving 3,736 new coupes and convertibles and marking down an 18% gain over the first month of 2011. Ford has added a little more power for the 2012 Mustang GT in an effort to close the performance gap between the Mustang GT and the Camaro SS. Also, the new Mustang GT500 will soon pack 650 horsepower as Ford turns up the heat on the battle of the premium American muscle cars. Across the trimlines, the Ford Mustang carries a lower starting price than the comparable Camaro but that hasn’t swayed consumers from picking the Camaro over the Mustang at a fairly healthy (for GM) ratio.

Last but certainly not least, the Dodge Challenger was third in sales volume and growth; moving 2,551 Challengers last month in route to posting a 1% increase over the previous year. Unlike the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang, the Challenger is available only as a hardtop coupe and even though the Challenger rarely competes in terms of overall sales volume – Chrysler executives including SRT Boss Ralph Gilles has stated that the company is perfectly happy with the number of Challengers sold. The key issue with the Challenger for many is that it carries a higher price across trimlines that are comparable in power but Dodge has remained firm, keeping the pricing at the same levels while many consumers look to the more affordable Camaro or Mustang when making their purchases.