Chevrolet considering a budget V8 Camaro to regain sales

  • Image Credit: Chevrolet
According to Automotive News, Chevrolet product chief Mark Reuss told the press at the Camaro NASCAR reveal that the brand was looking at updating the lineup, and one of the updates may be a cheap V8 model. His exact words, according to the news outlet, were, "I think we've got opportunities at the very low end of the Camaro range and some remix of some of the V8 options on it so we don't force people to buy all the options with a V8, just to get a V8."

We think that offering a cheaper V8 would be fantastic both from an enthusiast standpoint and from a sales perspective. We really like the current Camaro, and its 455-horsepower V8 is excellent, but the $37,995 price makes it a tough sell when it's a full $2,000 more than the now more powerful 2018 Ford Mustang GT. It's also almost $4,000 more than both the outgoing 2017 Mustang GT and the Challenger R/T, the most affordable V8 Challenger. The Challenger comparison is a trickier comparison, though, since the regular R/T is significantly down on power compared with the Mustang and Camaro, and the more comparable 485-horsepower Challenger R/T Scat Pack starts above both cars at $40,090.

We think that if Chevy could offer a bare-bones model for a couple-thousand dollars less, perhaps without the large wheels, infotainment screen, and rear wing that are standard on the SS, it could have a real winner. It could especially be popular with people who want to modify their Camaros. They don't care how the car looks off the lot because they'll replace any parts they don't like, and if they don't have to pay up front for the parts they'll replace, even better.

The cost issue extends to the lower models of Camaro, too. From Reuss's quote, Chevrolet recognizes this, and hopefully it can find a way to make those vehicles more attractive as well. For reference, the new EcoBoost Mustang provides nearly the same power as the V6 Camaro, and substantially more torque, for about $2,000 less. The EcoBoost Mustang even undercuts the base Camaro four-cylinder by about $400, and the four-cylinder Camaro is much less potent than the EcoBoost Mustang. In addition, the EcoBoost Mustang can be fitted with the performance package with improved suspension and drivetrain and still slip in under $30,000. Adding the 1LE performance package to the V6 Camaro bumps the price to over $32,000. The four- and six-cylinder Camaros are cheaper than the base model Challenger V6 though.

We would also like to see potentially cheaper Camaros sooner than later, both because we like the idea, and the Camaro's sales slump is pretty major. Chevy sold about 600 fewer Camaros than the Challenger in July, and about 1,500 units fewer than the Mustang. It also trails the Mustang for the year so far at about 9,500 fewer cars, and is effectively tied with Challenger sales. It gets worse when comparing this generation of Camaro with the previous one. Based on a sales chart from GM Authority, Camaro sales have been dropping since right about the time the sixth-generation model was introduced. In 2015, the last year that fifth-generation cars would have been on lots, sales for the year were just over 77,500. That dropped in 2016, the first full year of sixth-generation models, to just under 73,000. And for 2017, Camaro sales are down about 1,000 cars through July compared with 2016. Those signs say Chevy needs to do something soon.

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