Recently, auto manufacturers have not only had to deal with the burden of designing and building what their buying public will want in 5-10 years, but also overcome all the present hurdles of getting the current product out the door. There are too many examples of temporary factory shutdowns that highlight how today’s “just-in-time” manufacturing technique has turned into a “just-not-enough” scenario.
If recent numbers are any indicator, there may be a light at the end of that dark tunnel. A great example is Chevrolet’s Camaro. Recent numbers were released stating the pony car’s second-quarter sales for 2022 have increased by 63 percent when compared year-to-year. That’s good news for dealerships selling Camaros. Having cars to sell is a key ingredient of being a successful salesman.
But the numbers also show that compared to a time when production is almost ground to a halt, a vast improvement can still be a bit like your doctor saying, “You no longer have a cold, but your leg is still broken.” According to an online car sales report by goodcarbadcar.net, Camaro sales for the second quarter of the year have increased over last year’s numbers, but the last couple of years’ numbers were definitely the outlier so far as production was concerned.
Since a couple of months into 2020, Camaro sales (as well as all other models) have been dismal, but production numbers have been dropping for the aging sixth-gen prior to 2020. With the recent numbers, it shows there is still a market for enthusiasts with a rising interest in the car if you put the metal on the showroom floor. GM sold an average of 930 cars per month in the second quarter of 2021 as compared to 1,515 for 2022, an increase of 61 percent in just the U.S. market.
Will An EV Energize Camaro Sales?
There have been so many holes drilled into the Camaro brand’s ship recently that any increase in sales is truly a testament to the enthusiastic base the car has created over the years. GM recently announced they are putting the internal combustion engine on the chopping block and have abandoned any engineering for a further, seventh-generation Camaro. There are some rumors around the water cooler that the nameplate may return as an EV, but that is truly speculation at this point.
Camaro’s numbers have decreased each year since the current generation Camaro was introduced in 2015 as a 2016 model. Even during its first year of production, the sixth-gen never enjoyed the sales numbers of the previous generation, even as the fifth-gen Camaro was on its way out. Is this due to enthusiasts hoping for a total revamp of the body style or has GM been letting the fruitful model wither on the vine long before their announcement to go all-electric? Could buyers POSSIBLY be holding out until their beloved pony car is available as an EV? If so, that would surely energize Camaro sales after the conversion.
Surely GM is watching the sales reports of EVs and has noted that Tesla Inc.’s shipments from its Shanghai car plant, which manufactures the Tesla Model 3 and Model Y EVs, surged to a record last month. Tesla’s Giga factory churned out 78,906 vehicles in the MONTH of June, more cars than the number of Camaros Chevy has turned out in North America (Camaro’s hottest market) for any year since 2015 when it produced 79,758 units.
General Motors has always been focused on the economy of scale, giving preference to high production numbers and profitability. This is not a surprise to many enthusiasts of the historically lower-production Corvette, which also had fought its way back from the chopping block. Corvette’s stay of execution was only administered thanks to a handful of enthusiasts who worked to carry the brand through a couple of generations until its profitability secured it once again in the company’s repertoire.
With the apparent shift sideways of the entire auto industry into an entirely new realm of propulsion, can Camaro re-invent itself into an all-ion variant to continue the heritage? Another question is whether it should? Would a Camaro enthusiast cozy up to an all-EV seventh-gen Camaro? Even if the performance is the same, would the name still resonate with enthusiasts like a sweet-sounding set of dual exhausts? We can all likely finish this well-known statement, “A rose by any other name…” but if you cut off all the rose petals, all you’re left with is a stick full of thorns, and it’s really hard to get $12 for a dozen sticks.