Due to a number of factors you’re certainly tired of hearing about by now, 2021 was an interesting year for car sales. Some brands had great years and others struggled badly, but there were some noteworthy results no matter which way the pendulum swung. GM got overtaken by Toyota, Kia had its best year ever, and for the first time in automotive history, the Dodge Challenger outsold the Ford Mustang. For 2021, the aging coupe was the most popular muscle car in the United States.
Now, this didn’t happen because of a sudden boost in the Mopar’s popularity. The reality is the Blue Oval’s contender just didn’t do so hot in 2021, and the Challenger had a year that was slightly better than average. Mustang sales dropped from 61,090 units in 2020 to 52,414 in 2021, a considerable reduction of 14.2 percent. Challenger sales, on the other hand, were up three percent from 52,995 units in 2020 to 54,314.
Maybe you’re wondering if the Mustang dropped far enough to get into contention with the Chevy Camaro. The answer to that is no. Actually, not even close.
The plant where GM builds the Camaro, Lansing Grand River Assembly, was shuttered on and off in 2021. Combined with the fact that the Bowtie was already struggling to sell Camaros, that meant the results were abysmal. In 2020, Chevy sold 29,775 Camaros; in 2021 that dropped like a rock—over 25 percent—to 21,893 units. The death spiral for what some argue to be the best car in its class continues.
You might think Ford would lump in Mustang Mach-E sales with the conventional gas-powered pony car to pump up these numbers, but it doesn’t. Despite publicly referring to the electric crossover as a Mustang, it doesn’t count it alongside the car in terms of sales. At least we still have that, right?
In 2022, the Challenger, Mustang, and Camaro are set to continue in their current generations, so the sales are anybody’s guess. If I had to make a bold assumption, though, the Camaro will be a distant third while the Mustang tries to claw back its lead by any means necessary. With the next generation reportedly on its way by 2023, it’s unclear how much Ford will be willing to do in order to take back its lead. Dodge puts out a new trim of the Challenger every time I sit down for lunch, so if anything, they know how to keep an old platform looking fresh. 2022 is bound to be a battle for the two Michigan giants.
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