While some people will argue that the modern muscle cars should be called something different, the most popular segment of performance-minded cars in the United States is comprised of the Ford Mustang, the Dodge Challenger and the Chevrolet Camaro. Some people call them muscle cars, some people call them pony cars, some people call them sports cars and some people call them all different things. But semantics aside, these three cars have been duking it out for the title of America’s most popular performance car since the Camaro returned to the Chevy lineup back in 2009.
Muscle Car Sales Segment Slide
Over the past few years, the muscle car segment has seen a steady decline in overall sales volume. For example, first quarter sales in 2016 of 64,756 dropped to 53,487 in 2017 and in the first three months of 2018, only 48,064 examples of these cars were sold in the US. The second quarter of the past three years follows a similar pattern, going from 69,650 in 2016 to 63,598 in 2017 to 56,571 in 2018.
Check out the 2019 Dodge Challenger SRT Hellcat Redeye Pricing Information, covered by Torque News.
Some quick math reveals that first quarter muscle car sales have declined by about 25% over the past three years while second quarter sales have dropped by about 19%. In total, sales of the Mustang, Camaro and Challenger are down a combined 22% during the first half of 2018 when compared to the first half of 2016.
The Chevrolet Camaro plays the biggest role in the decline of the segment, as sales of the GM muscle car were down 30% in the first half of 2018 from the first two quarters of 2016. The Mustang is down by almost 33% in the first quarter from 2018 to 2016, but Ford’s main decline came from 2016 to 2017, as the Mustang is only down 4% through the first half of 2018 when compared 2017 while the Camaro has posted steadily-decreasing numbers over the past few years.
Meanwhile, as the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro try to stop their downward slide, the Dodge Challenger continues to post year-over-year sales growth.
Challenger Continues to Shine
The Dodge Challenger is frequently slighted by the critics for being a “very old car” by modern standards. Although the Mopar muscle car was heavily refreshed for the 2015 model year, the car is more or less the same machine that was introduced back in 2008. That makes this Challenger about 11 years old and in the auto industry, that is ancient.
In most cases, a car that has gotten that old in a segment where the competition generally updates their vehicles every few years would be dying a slow, painful death, but that isn’t the case with the Challenger.
During the first half of 2018, the Dodge Challenger moved 37,367 units, up 4% from the same period in 2017.When you compare the 2018 numbers to 2016, the Challenger is up 8%, and while 4-8% growth isn’t anything fantastic, we have to keep in mind that in the same period where the Dodge Challenger grew by 8%, both of its key competitors saw a decline in sales of more than 30%.
So, while the Challenger is still trailing the Mustang in the 2018 annual sales race, it is doing considerably better than either of the competitors in the grand scheme of things – posting solid growth while the competition is way down.
The best news for FCA, Dodge and fans of the brand is that with the introduction of the expanded Scat Pack lineup, 10 more horsepower from the Hellcat and the new 797-horsepower Redeye edition, the Challenger is guaranteed to see continued strong sales through 2018 into 2019.