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Chevrolet Camaro Sales Slump as Ford Mustang, Dodge Challenger Lead May Sales

Sales numbers were down across the board in the muscle car segment for May 2016, but the Chevrolet Camaro posted the biggest slide, trailing both the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger as sales of the 6th gen GM muscle car remain inexplicably slow.

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For the 5th month this year and the 19th straight month, dating back to November 2014, the Ford Mustang led all muscle cars in monthly sales in May 2016. It was a slow month for muscle car sales, with the Camaro, the Mustang and the Challenger all posting a decline from the same month last year. However, even with the new Chevrolet Camaro being widely available in all of its key forms (4 cylinder, V6, V8 – coupe and convertible) across the country, the new GM muscle car saw the biggest slide in May.

Ford Mustang May Sales
In May 2016, the Ford Mustang moved 10,327 units – down from the 13,616 Mustangs sold in May 2015 and down from the 12,726 Mustangs sold just one month earlier. This downturn in sales comes as a surprise, considering that May 2015 brought about a sales record for the Mustang in this decade, but in the modern auto industry – anything over 10,000 units sold in a month is very good. GM has only sold more than 10,000 Camaros once in the past five years; Ford has sold more than 10,000 Mustangs eight times in the past 15 months.

On the year, the Ford Mustang is down by 6% compared to the first five months of 2015, but with 53,189 units sold thus far, the mighty Mustang has a massive lead in the annual sales race – leading the Camaro by more than 20,000 units.

For the Ford Mustang, things aren’t great…but they are very, very good.

Dodge Challenger Grabs Second Place
The Dodge Challenger is almost always the third place finisher in monthly muscle car sales, but over the past few years, the brawny Mopar muscle car will occasionally jump up into the second place spot. May 2016 was one of those months, with the Challenger’s total of 6,677 units making it the second bestselling car in the segment, beating the Camaro by 850 cars. Although May 2016 was 10% slower than May 2015 for the Challenger, last month was the best month for the high performance Dodge coupe in 2016.

Chevrolet Camaro Sales Drop
The Chevrolet Camaro was once again the big surprise in the muscle car segment, but not for a good reason. With just 5,827 Camaro coupes and convertibles sold last month, Chevrolet posted their worst May sales in the past five years, after May was the best month for Camaro sales in 2014 and 2015.

In May, Camaro sales were down 40% from the same month last year and down 22% from April 2016. Having driven the new Camaro and enjoyed every aspect of it, I am at a loss for words as to why this new Camaro isn’t selling better. The 6th gen Camaro has improved on every aspect of the 5th gen models, yet people just aren’t buying it at the same rate as the previous generation Chevy muscle cars – and that just blows my mind.

I would expect that at some point, General Motors will introduce some aggressive incentives for the new Camaro, which will lead to a spike in sales, but it appears that the new Chevrolet muscle car isn’t going to reach the lofty sales levels of the newest Ford Mustang.

In other words, it looks as though the Ford Mustang is almost guaranteed to win the muscle car segment sales race for the second year in a row.

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Jesse (not verified)    June 1, 2016 - 5:15PM

I guess new and improved is in the eye of the beholder. My guess it's not quite new enough. It's sad that GM is out of touch with consumers as evidenced by the sales numbers. On the surface it seems the Camaro would be a hit. Why it isn't more competitive is a mystery. They need a split bumper up front like the 70 1/2 Camaro Z-28 as well as those round tail lights of that year as well.

I think the Camaro is a bit too aerodynamic. Look at the front end of the 70 1/2 and one will see how distinctive the front fenders are in relation to the hood. And that hood flows forward to that beautiful center grille. It looks somewhat European. If you look at the difference in the 69 and 70 1/2 Camaro, the difference is night and day. A proven generational change that GM needs to mistaking those model years!

David R. Letendre (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 9:07AM

I have said it before...................GM lost the recipe AFTER the 2013 model year. The body style started getting too retro and the car is WAAAY overpriced. I'll happily stick with my 2013 with 25k miles until they come out with the next GEN !! GM needs to stop following and start leading. The GEN5 turns heads !!

edco (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 10:28AM

Challenger outselling the 6G Camaro in May 2016 is a surprise. May is Indy month, 6G Camaro did the twenty-one car drivers parade, the on track pace car, Indy race cars are Chevy powered and badged, all this dovetailed with national TV advertising. That is high visibility and as the writer pointed out, all 6G Cam models, coupe, convertible, and engines V8, V6, I4 are in full production. Remarkable for Dodge, not so for Chevy.

edco (not verified)    June 6, 2016 - 2:17PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

At present there are only two engine suppliers to Indy Dallara race cars Honda and Chevrolet.
Andretti Motor Sport is linked with Honda and they have won two of the last three. What I wrote
about the Chevy badge visibility at Indy is also certainly true for Honda. My point being the Indy
500 is the most prestigious auto race in the world, I think it has the largest TV audience, the Camaro
is a performance car. It is featured prominently at the event. The millions of fans are sports car minded.
The advertising bonanza did not pay off for Chevy. Challenger outsold the new and hyped-performance 2016 Camaro. That is surprising. Maybe there is a lag and Camaro will boost sales in June.

Steve (not verified)    June 9, 2016 - 1:45PM

In reply to by edco (not verified)

Just a snarky comment, I can only speak for myself - I went to the Chevy dealer to look at a 2016 SS, might have bought. It does have outward visibility issues however i could have dealt with it, that killed it for me was the tiny interior, my shoulder is right up against the door, the back seat I can not actually sit back there with the front seat back. I would use the back seat only now and then however when I need one, I need one and IMO the Camaro's back seat is unusable - for my kids anyway. In contrast the Mustang's seat isn't comfortable for an adult, however a mid to smaller adult can get back there, kids - they have no problem at all, in fact they think it's awesome (Mainly because they are in a Mustang). I think GM out thought themselves. On the other hand the Mustang is exceeding sales so Ford is going to give back on on the S550, expect them to do something really special with the S550 before it is done, I've heard rumors of AWD....

Steve (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 3:03PM

I suppose I have to expect Mustang's record sales pace to subside at some point. However the S550 is still the class of the segment, which if you are objective only now includes the Mustang and Challenger, as the Camaro no belongs in the two seater sports car segment where it really does stack up nicely against the Corvette.
On the other hand spy shots of 2017 Mustang Mules have been seen that indicate a new front end, it would appear that quite possibly a lighter IRS unit may be on it's way, with the money the S550 made by outselling expectations Ford can afford to update this car, I suspect the 2017 is going to rain on the Camaro's parade even more than the 2016 . Hat's off to Challenger BTW - excellent car.

KevLT4 (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 3:07PM

GM may have simply pushed the pricing too far on the new Camaro. The SS is now essentially a $40K+ car, even the 3.6L V6 powered examples can easily be optioned into the mid to upper $30's. The other traditional rivals, The Mustang and Challenger are cheaper. They may not perform or drive as well as the Camaro, but both have very strong appeal.

Jeff H (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 5:15PM

As a 2014 Mustang owner & 40-something lifelong fan of the classic 60's & early 70's look, I was very disappointed with the 2015's corporate "kinetic" design language grafted onto an otherwise sleek, albeit European shape (essentially making it a Fusion Coupe rather than a separate halo car as the Mustang always was for Ford.) Frankly I believe biggest reason for its success is the IRS which finally encouraged all to again drive a Mustang (after a couple decades removed from solid axles the general public just wasn't having it anymore.)

Meanwhile I greatly prefer the classic American muscular look of the Camaro, especially with its rear quarter window taken right off a 1969 Mustang. I get that it wasn't enough of a departure from the 7-year-old old Bumblebee look, but the sales disaster can only be attributed to the price disparity with its competition.

By far the most popular choice of the pony cars --as it should be-- is the V8. A base V8 Mustang GT starts at $32,395 whereas a base Camaro V8 (also with cloth seats) is pushing $40k at $37,295! With typical options and taxes you're easily over $45k!! With cloth seats!!!

Want leather? A Mustang GT Premium is $37,395 while the Camaro 2SS is nearly $5k more at $42,295. Load it up with auto, nav, & Brembo pkg and you're well north of $50k. That puts you in GT350 territory with its world-class 526hp flat plane V8 with a 8200 RPM redline! A completely different beast for about the same money.

That's true across the board. Every single Camaro package costs about the same as the next step up in a Mustang. No wonder Mustang is still smearing the Camaro in sales!

Paul (not verified)    June 3, 2016 - 10:40AM

In reply to by Jeff H (not verified)

I rented a 2014 Convertible in Florida, in 2014 as a test drive, and liked its chunky look enough that I thought I would be very happy with a premium v6 convertible. I have no interest in 5L engines, although I did test drive one. I spent quite some time looking for the model I wanted in DIB, but could not Find one. When I saw the 2015, I could not take my eyes off it. Now I was torn between a new body style I loved, or save 20k on the old model. After a lot of research, and discussion, we custom ordered a 2016 Ecoboost convertible that arrived during the first week of may, and we both love it. We get so many compliments on the color and style of the vehicle that it can be overwhelming when your other car is a 2009 Forester that attracts no attention at all.

When people say, I bought car x because it is faster than car y, I really have trouble with that logic. Sure, the GT is 1 second faster than the Turbo, and sure the high speed cornering of the new Camaro is more nimble than the Mustang, but for most of us that is irrelevant. 0-60 in under 6 seconds is fast enough for a daily driver. I've read a lot about how quiet the Turbo si at low revs, and it is, but I thought the GT was also very quiet when we were test driving it on the test drive. Really quiet. The stereo is way louder than either of the engines.

For me, there are a many reasons I love the 2016 Mustang, but there are a couple of key ones that I think are part of its continued appeal. The ride is really comfortable and the visibility is great for a convertible, especially with the camera and BLISS. I find the visibility better than then 2014, but I might just be more used to it now. The convertible top goes down easy, and more importantly it barely impacts the trunk. I can still get a ton of luggage in there, and I think it looks even better as a convertible than a fastback. The fancy new Camaro top takes up s huge amount of space when stowed and Just look at some of the other convertibles. Many of them lose a ton of space, especially hard tops. We wanted something for long road trips and the Mustang delivers. The 2014 also delivered there as well. The new Electronics in the 2016 are superb, and I love the backup cam, and navigation. The 12 speaker stereo is great, and I love the 19 inch wheel and stripe package. All of this for under 40k with my university discount (plus tax etc etc).

When I look at the new Camaro, and old Camaro side by side, I actually prefer the look of the older model from the front. Several people I know, including one Camaro owner, feel the same. The new one looks like someone sat on the hood and crushed the grill. From the back, they both look cool. I like how the convertible top is automatic on the Camaro, but it comes at a huge trunk space cost compared to the Mustang.

I actually really like the retro look of the Challenger. If they made a convertible, I would have been very tempted. The problem with the Challenger is the size. It is huge! It is the only true muscle car (big engine and big body) of the three. I parked next to one with the Mustang and I felt like I was in a Miata.

For full disclosure, I am a Brit who lives and works in America, so I probably have a different perspective. Vehicles with smaller higher performance engines are more attractive to me than larger ones. I actually considered the Miata first, but the trunk is a bit small for long road trips. It is less than half the size of the Mustang.

April (not verified)    June 2, 2016 - 6:57PM

I traded my 2015 v6 Camaro for a 2016 Camaro v6. I loved the updated chassis, interior etc. I looked at it like a refresh of my car. Plus was faster than the EcoBoost Mustang. And the sadly getting old looking Challenger (I like them also) I have no need for the back seat.
I know it's better in every way compared to the other cars. Except looking out the windows lol. But seriously, It is the price. A v6 like mine 1450 v6 upgrade, 1450 8 speed auto transmission, puts it at almost 30,000. Even if you get the base turbo 4, If you add ANYTHING. Like RS package etc. It brings it to 30,000. People will buy many v6 Mustangs. They are cute, cheap, and not as slow as people think.
But I LOVE my 2016 Camaro. If you want to get the ultimate gen 5 Camaro with Cadillac underpinnings and more power, Get a 2016 Camaro :) lol

E Canales (not verified)    June 4, 2016 - 7:33PM

the reason the 2016 Camaro is not selling well is that it's interior is too SMALL! No headroom in the back , It is a two seater. I will keep my 2010 SS or buy a Challenger Scat Pac.

April (not verified)    June 6, 2016 - 10:48AM

In reply to by E Canales (not verified)

Wrong. lol The interior isn't to small. It is the price. I never liked the 2010-14 tail lights. I had both gens and the interior is BIGGER in the front for headroom of 2016. No one buys a Camaro for a back seat :P

Peter (not verified)    July 2, 2016 - 12:50AM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

I have owned 5 camaros and 1 corvette. I had the camaros when I had the need for a small back seat for the kids. The corvette when I didn't need the back seat. Now I need the back seat again. It's too small for my 6 year old. Now I will own my first mustang we will try the GT 350 flavor

Vince (not verified)    July 16, 2016 - 7:09AM

6th gen camaro is not selling so well because of its price obviously. In Canada you can buy a premium gt almost fully loaded for only 48k before tax. A Camaro v8 cost almost 58k to 62k before tax. That's already in luxury class territory. I was going to sell my 5th gen camaro to get a 6th gen but when the dealer told me the final price for a v8, I turned down his offer. $63k for a chevrolet product is not worth it.

Warren Meyer (not verified)    July 29, 2016 - 11:32AM

I had every intention of replacing my 2011 RS with a 2016 RS until I looked in the rear view mirror and saw an even more restricted viewing area than my 2011 - I had hoped they would increase the rear view, not shrink it. But the real stumbling block is the reduced trunk space, I can't even fit one set of golf clubs in that trunk. Yes, it looks good and goes fast, but I need it to be safe to change lanes, etc. and be able to fit my golf clubs in the trunk. We have to use my wife's Challenger for vacations (bigger trunk) and I see where the new Challenger has AEB (Auto. Emer. Braking) which is a great feature to avoid rear end collisions, but NOT available on Camaros. And also, the Camaro is overpriced.

jason (not verified)    August 2, 2016 - 7:13AM

The acquisition price on my leased 2014 V6 Camaro was around 23k. V6, manual and only option was a white stripe that I peeled off. $237/mo for 36mos. Great price for a FUN daily driver. New base Camaro starts at $27k! Base SS for $38k! You could previously buy a 1LE for that amount. The price is killing sales...period. Spec any new mustang to any new camaro and you will see 4-6k difference in price apples to apples. People aren't stupid, so the Mustang runs away with the sales numbers. New Camaro is great, but money talks. My Lease is up in Feb and the price on the 2017's is crazy, so I will turn in my keys and search for a cherry 2010 SS. Many out there for under $20k...

edco (not verified)    June 2, 2017 - 10:57AM

I share the authors mystery about the new improved Camaro not being the segment leader.
We can only guess. Maybe the sum of the guesses is an answer. I attended a 2016 camarofest at a dealer. Did not wait in line to get a test drive. A big factor missing in my review. The dealer was careful not to have a gen 5 anywhere near the gen 6s. I did see one and spent time walking to and from to drink in all the differences. Now its June 2017 and there is enough data to prove that the Gen 5 is more popular than the Gen 6. Forget about mustang and challenger comps. The gen6 refinements were obvious just looking at the parked cars. I liked the gen 6 interior far more than 5. I will take "better driving" on faith. Cadillac aluminium subframes and chassis, couple of inches trimmed off WB. 300# trimmed off weight. EPS, magnetorheo-shocks etc. Better straight line accel. Better cornering. -yes better driving for sure. Here is my guess. Camaro lost some muscle/pony car identity. It is a combo of cadillac and corvette. Lust looking at it parked that kind of came out for me. It is possible to make something "too good" for the muscle/pony crowd. Everything has a limit. There is a price point and identity point ceiling on pony cars in general. Cross it and the vehicle is in a different segment. My guess is for some segment buyers GM crossed the point. All cars are more sophisticated today and the demand is there. But remember where muscle/pony spawns from. The bone humble fox-body mustang sold like crazy for 15 years. The more Ford packed in power the more they sold. You could pay $8500 and run with the then corvettes and jaguars. Gen 6 Camaro will run with todays corvettes and jaguars, the difference is it crosses the price point and really belongs in the upper segment. It is too snobby to be cool.

Steve (not verified)    June 3, 2017 - 10:19AM

The answer is in the details; with the Alpha body Camaro fully 50% of customers buy the SS which is unusual as typically the smaller engines outsells the V8. So why wouldn't the smaller engines sell? Well I'd suggest it's because people that by the smaller engines place more value on utility than performance. Despite what the obvious fan boys and girls above are saying the Camaro is a two trick pony; one of those tricks is not "a usable 2+2", it's quick, it handles. Sure it's better than the Mustang (unless we're talking the GT350, which outshines them all, given with a professional driver is less than 1 second behind the ZL1 despite being down 125 HP and over 200ft-lb torque) however it's marginally better. Meaning for the most part you really can't tell. On the other hand what you will immediately notice is while the Camaro's interior though well appointed for a Camaro is very tight - too tight for me and the salesmen strongly suggested I not try to get into the back seat, I did and understood why - I cannot fit back there for several reasons - actually no legroom actually no head room. Try getting into the back of a Mustang - I don't know how the men and women at dearborn did it, however the back seat of a Mustang is cavernous in comparison, my kids love it. So I suppose Camaro makes a great car for those that never plan to use the back seat, though that have friends and children like myself will take one look at the Camaro, decide it's actually a two seater and therefore out of the question, then stroll on over to the Ford lot, the Dodge lot and I'd also suggest Audi.