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Mustang Wins in January as Camaro Sales Remain Slow

January 2016 sales figures are in for the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro and Dodge Challenger and this is one of those months that you should file under “T”, for Things that we didn’t expect – as the Mustang has once again dominated sales with the Camaro spike still unseen.

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So, the Ford Mustang was by far the bestselling muscle car in America for 2015, winning every month of the year over the Chevrolet Camaro and the Dodge Challenger. However, with the new generation Camaro arriving late last year, we all know that it is only a matter of time before the Camaro sales spike as people line up for the 2016 models. Unfortunately for GM, that spike still hasn’t come as Camaro sales remain inexplicably slow – so slow that the Dodge Challenger was within 500 units of catching the Camaro with two generations on sale right now.

January Sales
In January 2016, Ford sold 7,580 examples of the Mustang, making it the bestselling muscle car for the 15th straight month. This is a healthy drop from the 8,694 sold in January 2015, but that was amidst the early rush for the new models and demand has cooled a bit. However, Mustang numbers for the first month of 2016 were still more than double the figures from January 2012, 2013 or 2014.

The Chevrolet Camaro was a distant second once again, with only 5,551 units sold last month. This is an improvement of 560 units, but with the 2016 models on sale for a few months, I expected to see stronger numbers from the Camaro in January.

Finally, the Dodge Challenger was once again the 3rd bestselling muscle car, but with 5,085 units sold last month, it was the best January ever for the modern Mopar muscle car. Even with the huge push for the Hellcat models early last year, 2016 has started off better than any prior year for the Challenger.

A Tale of Two Launches
The arrival of the “new generation: muscle cars - specifically the 2015 Ford Mustang and the 2016 Chevrolet Camaro - came a year apart, but they are very similar in their basic rollout. The 2015 Mustang began hitting dealerships in November of 2014 and the 2016 Camaro began hitting dealerships in November 2015. It should be noted that deliveries of both vehicles began in October of the year in question, but full scale deliveries didn’t begin for either car until November of their respective year. In both cases, there was a solid stock of “old generation” cars still on hand and as dealers discount those models to get them off of the lots, the previous generation Mustang and Camaro would generally add to the already strong sales numbers of the new generation.

The problem for General Motors is that Camaro sales haven’t followed the same patterns as Mustang sales, even though the timing of the rollout was similar for both vehicles. When the Mustang hit the lots late in 2014, sales exploded, making November and December two of the strongest months of the year. When the 2016 Camaro arrived late in 2015, Camaro sales were at some of their lowest levels of the year.

I then expected to see a huge boom in Camaro sales in January – similar to the strong numbers posted by the new Mustang one year earlier – but once again, Camaro numbers remained low. Chevy only sold around 600 more Camaros this January than they did last January when the new models weren’t available. For comparison, in the first January where the new Mustang was offered, Ford sold more than twice as many Mustangs as they had the year before.

So, where is the boom in Camaro sales? I am stunned that we still haven’t seen the big spike, as the 2016 Camaro has been well received by the media and the consumer market, yet numbers remain low. While we did see some harsh winter in January, it hasn’t been a particularly rough winter and it is definitely no worse than last year’s winter when Ford was posting huge Mustang sales.

Again, I look to February as the month when the 2016 Camaro will finally have its big impact on the segment sales sheet. In the meantime, sales numbers continue to be fairly strong for the Ford Mustang and the Dodge Challenger as gas prices remain low.

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Nigel (not verified)    February 4, 2016 - 5:12PM

In reply to by James (not verified)

Not actually true. When you do an apples to apples comparison of features and performance, they are within a few hundred dollars of each other, with the Camaro coming in less in some configurations.

Nigel (not verified)    February 10, 2016 - 5:49AM

In reply to by Ron (not verified)

To come close to the performance and features of a 2SS Camaro, you have to add the $2,495 GT Performance Package and $1,795 401A Equipment group to the Mustang Premium GT, which brings the price of the Mustang to $41,585, compared with $42,295 for the Camaro, a difference of only $710. Even with the Performance Package, the Mustang is still significantly outperformed by the Camaro. This has been demonstrated again and again in every measured performance test. And even with the 401A Group added to the Mustang, the 2SS still has more standard features. Sure you can add a bunch of options to the Camaro, like dual mode exhaust, sunroof, magnetic ride control, etc, and drive the price way up. But those are OPTIONS, and aren't even available on the Mustang.

The one advantage Ford has is they offer the V8 Mustang in a more stripped down version than the Camaro, if all you want is the illusion of performance without spending a lot of money. But if you want the best performance for your dollar, the Camaro is the way to go.

Milodon (not verified)    February 12, 2016 - 6:48PM

In reply to by Nigel (not verified)

Except for the fact that you are not getting a fully loaded 2016 Camaro SS for anywhere near 42. Trust me I know because I want one. I've already test driven one. The Chevy dealer's in Phoenix are all asking 48K to 50K for a fully loaded SS and they are not willing to negotiate. So IMHO.. way over priced. I get that the SS is car of the year and all and that it out performs the Mustang GT. But who can afford a 50K pony car?? Certainly not me. If I could get one fully loaded for 42K I would have already done it. Yeah you can get the stripped down version... but once again... who want's the bare bones 2016 SS?

Steve (not verified)    June 28, 2016 - 11:44AM

In reply to by William (not verified)

I have a 2016 Premium Mustang GT and I have sat in a 2SS - the Mustang's interior is every bit as nice if not nicer and roomier for me - I am 5'11", did check out the Camaro before getting the Mustang based on it's reviews. I thought it was too tight the door was right off my shoulder, while Mustang is a bit wider and more comfortable. Once you get past the performance you have to live with that car day to day, I did a six hour each way trip in the Mustang, average speed was less than 60, btw the 5.0L averaged 29 mpg w/o cylinder deactivation. The Mustang GT Premium standard seats may be the most comfortable seat I have never sat in, stands up nicely to Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Acura, Cadillac. And what are you paying for with the Camaro? Given the engine is the most expensive component you've got a cam-in-block engine that GM has been making since the 1960's, the Mustang has a DOHC engine that has an entirely new block for 2015. Before you spout off about how awesome a push-rod engine is, know that GM is about to replace that cam-in-block with a DOHC V8, what do you think your 2SS will be worth after that?

John (not verified)    February 4, 2016 - 10:15AM

.. We know huge mechanical/interior improvements were made, but the subjective view of the car, is not attention grabbing. If sales continue low, huge discounts will be offered, and Chevy will be stuck with this look for the next 5 years as Ford runs away as sales leader.

Hector (not verified)    February 24, 2016 - 3:18PM

The new Camaro has a lot of things going for it...lighter weigh, more power, etc. Problem is that it doesn't look that much different from the previous generation.

James (not verified)    March 2, 2016 - 2:51PM

A base 2016 Mustang GT starts under $33k while the Camaro SS starts at $37,500. The Camaro is overpriced by far. The little bit that the Camaro SS outperforms the Mustang GT sure isn't worth $5k in my book. My race red 2016 Mustang GT performance pack with recaro seats, 3.73 gears, brembo brakes, black painted roof with a sticker of $38,500 cost me $36,000 total out the door taxed and plated. I couldn't touch that price on a 2016 Camaro SS and I'm a GM employee.

Steve (not verified)    March 8, 2016 - 9:47AM

My view is that GM took just enough "up to no good" out of the appearance of the Camaro that it has lost appeal. The higher cost is a factor yes if sales don't improve expect the Camaro to gain weight as GM won't be able to put some of the light weight parts on it, however I believe the achilles heel of this generation of Camaro is the devolution of the back seat into a back-pack shelf. For the SS models no one cares however no one can look at that back seat and think - yeah that'll work in a pinch so people buying them just because they want a fun car to scoot around town in are looking else where.

Mike (not verified)    April 16, 2016 - 4:44PM

In reply to by Steve (not verified)

I quite agree, Steve. As an owner of two Camaros since 2012, this last design change is the blandest looking one to date. Stripped down, milk-toast, boring. They taken any aggressive lines out of the car and what is left, looks almost... sedan-like. And that grille...

My 2015 convertible will be my last, until GM pulls its head out of its arse & delivers something with some balls.

Mike (not verified)    June 28, 2016 - 5:22PM

In reply to by William (not verified)

Seriously - you're trolling 3 month old comments...

I think your mommy is calling you out of the basement. FYI - your RC Camaro doesn't count. The ass end of the 6th gen Cam looks like a Hyundai - can't imagine anyone but high school girls & soccer moms who wouldn't find the wussed-out design offensive.

And as far as making stupid comments - if you had any self awareness or intelligence at all, you'd realize that what you've posted here is certainly the pot calling the kettle...

Make sure your "5th gen" has fresh batteries.

Doug (not verified)    March 17, 2016 - 11:00PM

Love the refined look and would buy one in a second if the prices weren't so high. GM got everything right except the price. They're just not competing with fords pricing like they claimed they would. I priced out a Mustang GT fully loaded in my area, and it was 40,000, whereas the Camaro with comparable options was 46,000.. Like everyone here, I agree that pricing is hurting sales and will continue to hurt until GM wakes up and competes with Ford and Dodge on all levels.

Ian M (not verified)    March 24, 2016 - 10:57AM

It's not selling that well because it's bland, looking like it was designed by committee, it's overpriced, and it has all the visibility of a tank.

who cares (not verified)    April 18, 2016 - 6:28PM

Ten years ago I would have chosen the Camaro.

I bought a Mustang GT Premium performance pack.

Why? Because I drive 18-20k a year and I can actually see out of the Mustang. It's just a better daily driver.

I just couldn't pay more for a car that isn't as livable and in real world driving doesn't offer enough performance advantage.

Add in the fact that I can't tell the new one from the old one atba glance and I chose the GT.

who cares (not verified)    April 18, 2016 - 7:56PM

Ten years ago I would have chosen the Camaro.

I bought a Mustang GT Premium performance pack.

Why? Because I drive 18-20k a year and I can actually see out of the Mustang. It's just a better daily driver.

I just couldn't pay more for a car that isn't as livable and in real world driving doesn't offer enough performance advantage.

Add in the fact that I can't tell the new one from the old one atba glance and I chose the GT.

Steve (not verified)    April 19, 2016 - 7:15AM

I am a Mustang fan, however was deeply disappointed Ford released the S197 without IRS, I did love the look of the 2010 - 2014 however the 2015 is just awesome, it really is the low profile of the car is ominous. Ford took a risk with the 2015 Mustang, and it paid off, it seems like Ford is good at risk taking, sometimes they don't pay off, this time it did.
BTW; I was at the Chevy dealer to look at the 2016 and while I know the 2016 is improved, the 2015 looks better it's just that simple. It is odd given GM went over the top with the loudness of the C7 Vette that they'd go for a subdued Camaro.