Victimized by declining sales, General Motors will end production of the Chevrolet Camaro early next year.
That may not be the end of the story for the once wildly popular muscle car, however. While the sixth-generation model is going away, Chevy effectively confirmed a successor will follow. And with GM on what CEO Mary Barra has repeatedly described as a “path to an all-electric future,” that appears to be the direction the bow-tie brand will take with a replacement, TheDetroitBureau.com has learned.
“While we are not announcing an immediate successor today, rest assured, this is not the end of Camaro’s story,” Chevrolet Vice President Scott Bell said in a statement released Wednesday.
The bowtie brand hopes to go out on a high note and will put out a “Collector’s Edition” of the Camaro to mark the end of the gen-6 model, it said.
Chevy is not alone in trying to cope with declining sales of performance models. And the solution may be electrified. With plans to boost production of its new Mustang Mach-E, Ford expects to sell more of those all-electric coupes this year than traditional, gas-powered coupes. Dodge, meanwhile, is about to end the run of its Charger and Challenger muscle cars, with a battery-electric coupe, based off the new Dodge Charger Daytona R/T show car, to follow in 2024.
A long history
Tracing its roots back to an assortment of earlier General Motors muscle cars, Chevy unleashed the first Camaro on Sept. 29, 1966 as a 1967 model. It was directly aimed at the Ford Mustang in the “pony car” segment.
For the first few decades, it shared underpinnings, and much of its exterior design, with the Pontiac Firebird. But, as the new millennium approached, both models grew tired and the Firebird, then Camaro, were dropped from production — Chevrolet’s muscle car ending its original run in 2002.
With much fanfare, Camaro made a comeback in 2009 as a 2010 model. It picked up key design cues from the coupe’s heyday, though then-GM Design Director Ed Welburn forcefully insisted it wasn’t just a retromobile.
Initial response to the Camaro revival was solid, but the bubble didn’t last long. In 2015, when the two-door muscle car segment hit a peak of 394,000, Chevy sold 77,500 Camaros. But the numbers slid to 13,800 last year.
Overall, passenger cars have lost significant momentum in a market now focused on SUVs, CUVs and pickups. But the downturn in the muscle car segment has been particularly severe. During the same period, the two-door Dodge Challenger dropped from 66,400 to 30,400, and Ford’s Mustang, traditionally the segment leader, plunged from 122,200 to just 28,200, according to data from Edmunds.
The end of the line for Camaro will come with the 2024 model year, Chevy said. Collector Edition packages will be offered with Camara RS, SS and ZL1 models sold in North America. Though details won’t be released until summer, the automaker said they will “pay homage” to the history of the nameplate, “resurfacing ties that date back to the development of the first-generation Camaro in the 1960s, most notably the program’s initial code name: Panther.”
All-electric Camaro expected next
Where Chevy goes next is unclear, though it appears highly likely that whatever replaces Camaro will be all-electric. Internal documents show it having a “V” code, Sam Fiorani, chief analyst with AutoForecast Solutions told TheDetroitBureau.com. That’s in the same batch of performance EV models including the all-electric version of the Chevrolet Corvette GM has already confirmed.
That model, said Fiorani, “will fill the void left by the current Camaro,” though precise details are yet to be confirmed.
Expect production of an all-electric Camaro successor to begin no sooner than mid-decade, however, according to several sources.
It would follow the production version of the Dodge Charger Daytona R/T. Ford has not confirmed whether it’s working up a battery-electric version of the Mustang coupe — though one is widely expected.