The sales numbers from the American automakers are in for the first quarter of 2021 and once again, the Ford Mustang outsold the Dodge Challenger, but it wasn’t without a fight. Challenger sales were up an impressive 24% during the first three months of 2021, even as inventory levels are very low. In fact, the Challenger was the only one of the three cars in the segment to post positive growth in 2021 Q1, as the Mustang and Camaro were both down from the same period last year.
2021 Q1 Challenger, Mustang and Camaro Sales
During the first three months of 2021, Dodge sold 15,096 examples of the Challenger, up 24% from the 12,138 units sold during the same period last year. While 2020 was a relatively poor sales year due to the first major hit of the Covid 19 pandemic, the first quarter wasn’t hit as badly as the latter portions of the year, so the big percentage gain in Q1 is not due purely to poor sales last year. Even though inventory levels have been far below the industry average for the Challenger, leading dealers to be less generous with discounts, the first three months of 2021 were pretty good for the brawny Mopar muscle car.
The Ford Mustang didn’t post positive growth during the first quarter of 2021, but with 17,274 units sold, it was the bestselling model in the segment. Whether you want to call them muscle cars, pony cars, sport two-doors or whatever else you like, the Challenger, Mustang and Camaro comprise the most popular segment of sporty two-doors and right now, Ford is leading the segment in sales. The Mustang was down 4.4% from the year before when 18,069 units were sold, so Ford actually posted the worst year-over-year decline, but with the Motor Company still leading the way in sales, we don’t imagine that they are too worried about trailing in growth rate.
Finally, the Chevrolet Camaro’s sad march to its unavoidable demise continued in the first quarter of 2021 with a decline of 1.3% to just 7,089 units sold. You read that right – just over 7,000 Camaros were sold during the first three months of the year. Both Dodge and Ford sold more than twice as many of their muscle cars in that same period, but with General Motors focusing on the Corvette and EVs, they likely don’t care about the slow, painful death of the Camaro. Corvette sales were up 73% during Q1, so there is some good news on Chevy performance sales, but things are just getting worse and worse for the Camaro.
Charger Up in Q1 as Well
The Dodge Charger is in a segment of its own, as there is no other large, four-door, rear-drive sedan sold in the US outside of the pricier luxury brands. The Taurus was the closest competitor from Ford until it was discontinued and General Motors hasn’t had any sort of competition for the Charger lineup since the Pontiac G8 was killed off. The Chevy SS was kind of a competitor for the Scat Pack, but without entry level models or a Hellcat competitor, it sold poorly in comparison. It was eventually discontinued as well, leaving the Charger as the only large, non-luxury rear-drive sedan in the US market.
Not surprisingly, Charger sales were up in the first quarter of 2021 with 19,740 units sold representing a 6% increase over the year before. Without any real competition for the Charger, the biggest threats for the powerful Dodge sedan are rising fuel prices and tight EPA restrictions. For now, if you want a big, powerful sedan that doesn’t cost six figures, the Charger is the only option.