The rivalry between the Chevrolet Camaro and the Ford Mustang is one of the longest running in the history of the car. It looks like the battle is going to be settled for good and always, and that doesn’t look good for Chevrolet.
When it presented the Mustang in 1964, Ford outperformed the world. This innovative car was exactly what people wanted and it showed in the sales figures: no other car ever broke the sales record of the first Ford Mustang. Other American brands woke up and immediately started developing a similar car. And so in 1967 arch-enemy Chevrolet presented the Chevrolet Camaro.
Like the Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro was a compact, sporty car for the just-adult baby boomer generation. Over the years, the Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro remained direct competitors. Although Camaro usually sold slightly less, the two models remained well matched.
At the beginning of this century, the battle seemed to be over, when Chevrolet did not present a new model after a few years of poor sales. However, after a seven-year absence, Chevrolet released a new Camaro in 2010. This retro-looking car turned out to be a huge success, aided by the heavily Chevrolet-sponsored Transformers films where the BumbleBee-Camaro stars (and a Mustang the villain).
This success of 10 years ago has already been forgotten. In the second quarter of this year, Chevrolet sold a whopping 46% fewer Camaros in the United States than in the previous year. In the other markets, sales fell even more drastically. For example, only one copy was sold in Russia, and none in Argentina.
This is, of course, partly the result of the corona crisis, which has caused all car sales to collapse . Still, the Ford Mustang saw only a 27% drop in sales. For every two Chevrolet Camaros sold in the United States, Ford sold five Mustangs. The Mustang also outperformed the Camaro in other markets.
The sales problem is certainly with the Camaro itself. Where the fifth generation (2010-2015) was a success, the sixth generation turned out to be a cause for concern. Chevrolet did not want to deviate too much from the successful retro design of the previous Camaro for the new model and therefore imposed many restrictions on itself.
The result is a car where the interior is secondary to the appearance. The current Camaro looks slick from the outside, but the interior is not very functional. If you want to sell a lot of cars, an unusable backseat and a tight trunk are not useful. The small windows also make the view from the Camaro badly bad – so bad that there were voices that the Camaro was labeled as unsuitable for public roads. Limited interior space and poor visibility to the outside make the current Camaro unpopular, especially because the latest Ford Mustang does score well in these areas.
When an update to the Camaro was subsequently received badly by the whole world at the end of 2018, the disaster was complete. In an attempt to make the front of the Camaro look more like other Chevrolets, Chevrolet had taken a fatal step. The front was a large black plastic gaping hole. The criticisms were not tender and forced Chevrolet to present an update on the update last year. However, the suffering had already happened.
End of the Camaro?
According to rumors, the Chevrolet Camaro will disappear in 2023. Is this the flag for the eternal competitor of the Ford Mustang? Or will the Camaro come back strongly in a while, as it did ten years ago?
Nobody knows, except maybe the high bosses at Chevrolet. In the current market, where only SUVs still sell well and one sporty two-seater after another disappears, there seems little hope for the Chevrolet Camaro.