Challenger, Camaro and Mustang Outsell All Hybrids Combined in May 2011
by Patrick Rall
The sales results from around the industry trickled in from May 2011 and an interesting bit of news came out, as the Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang together outsold all hybrids sold in the US market during the month. Many would expect that the sales of muscle cars would be on the decline with gas prices hovering around the $4 range, but thanks to advancements in technology, the fuel economy efforts by GM, Ford and Chrysler have made these models the most fuel efficient vehicles of their kind.
Muscle car sales in May 2011 were lead by the 2012 Chevrolet Camaro, with the introduction of the droptop models joining the powerful coupe to move 9,451 total units. This was a gain of 5% over May of 2010, but with Chevy selling over 10,000 Camaros in April, the GM muscle car did show a slight decline last month. The Ford Mustang was second in muscle car segment sales with 6,607 units sold (marking a 36% decrease compared to May 2010) and the Dodge Challenger was third with 3,418 units sold in May. While the segment as a whole may have hit a bit of a slump in May 2011, with 19,476 the Challenger, Mustang and Camaro bested the entire hybrid segment, which only moved 17,852 units in May.
The other main factor helping the Challenger, Camaro and Mustang outsell the entire hybrid segment, including models like the Toyota Prius and Ford Fusion Hybrid, was the impact of the Japanese earthquake and ensuing tsunami. The biggest impact was to the Japanese hybrids, like the Toyota Prius and Honda CRZ, both of which saw production facilities damaged by the natural disasters. Also, a hybrid battery plant in Japan was badly damaged and this reduction in battery output negatively impacted non-Japanese hybrid models like the Ford Fusion and Ford Escape. On top of the vehicle production in Japan being halted and the slow hybrid battery industry, shipping ports in Japan were clogged with damaged product, so deliveries to the US market were held up, which caused a shortage in hybrids in dealerships - slowing the sale of these super efficient models throughout the month of May 2011.
Not only is this feat impressive because of the rising price of gasoline but considering that the muscle car segment is comprised of only three cars, while the hybrid segment offers models from almost every brand sold in America (some being among the bestselling models in the market) - the performance oriented rear wheel drive coupes and convertibles really made gearheads around the country proud. Regardless of the reasons, for at least one month the high performance American muscle cars reigned supreme over the hybrid market as performance and mediocre fuel economy trumped vehicles with no power, little soul and high fuel economy numbers.