We don’t normally pay too much attention to pony-car pissing contests or quarter-to-quarter sales battles because, well, they aren’t always interesting and/or newsworthy.
What happened this past quarter caught our eye, however.
Not only did the Dodge Challenger surpass the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro in sales, it did so in the face of industry headwinds — namely a chip shortage that is keeping inventories low.
Of course, overall sales numbers are still low, thanks to that chip shortage and the fact that the pandemic isn’t yet over, and it’s obviously worth noting that comparing year-over-year sales to 2020 — when plants were shuttered and car buyers were staying home, due to COVID — means that even low 2021 numbers will look good, relatively speaking.
That means the Challenger’s sales numbers of 15,052 represent a more than 50 percent increase from 2020, though it is a very slight drop from Q1 of 2021 (15,096). To compare it to a more normal year, in this case, 2019, Dodge moved 15,237 units of the car in Q2 of that year. It sold almost 20K in the second quarter of 2018.
Meanwhile, Ford wasn’t too far off the pace in Q2 of this year, selling 14,675 units. Ford reports monthly, not quarterly like Dodge (man, we wish all OEMs did it monthly, so we’d have a better sense of what’s happening with sales), and Mustang fell off hard in May and June. It moved 8,000 cars in April, 4,435 in May, and 2,240 in June.
Chevy, like Dodge, reported quarterly sales, and the numbers are, um, not good. Just 2,792 Camaros moved in the quarter. Astute readers who remember the previous paragraph will note that Ford sold almost that many Mustangs in June, which was by far that car’s worst month of the quarter.
We can’t say we’re surprised. Chevy seems to have given up on marketing the Camaro, and the car’s future is uncertain. The car is hampered by poor visibility, and the design is starting to look a tad dated.
The Challenger is also long in the tooth, and the platform that underpins it would be right around the legal drinking age were it a human American, but Dodge markets the car (and its overall brand identity as a muscle-car brand) and has added high-performance versions like the Hellcats and Redeyes in recent years. The car is also probably the most comfortable of the three to drive, thanks to the platform it shares with the larger Charger allowing it to have an interior that feels more spacious than the other two.
Ford, of course, keeps working with the also due for an update Mustang, adding a Mach 1 model this year. And the Mustang name arguably carries the most cachet of the three. It’s hard to explain the June swoon, though we’d guess the chips, or lack thereof, are to blame. The Mustang still has outsold the Challenger overall through the first half of 2021, by about 1,800 units.
The Mustang might remain the pony-car sales king. But for now, a new, uh, contender arises.