Seventh-gen Chevrolet Camaro faces dim, uncertain fate

Platform changes and electrification cloud the future

2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS
2020 Chevrolet Camaro SS / Image Credit: Chevrolet
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A recent story in Muscle Cars & Trucks on the future of the Chevrolet Camaro cited "anonymous sources inside General Motors" saying the seventh-gen Camaro program had been "suspended." According to the report, when the current sixth-gen coupe reaches the end of its natural lifespan in 2022, the Camaro badge is "likely to be shelved." As the story made its way through the internet, the summary turned into, "The Camaro is dead." GM Authority worked its sources to put some context and meat on the bones of the MCT report, and the situation is, as usual, more complex and less certain.

The MCT piece walked us to the edge of the Camaro cliff with the line, "Sources tell us that the Camaro will not transition to the A2XX platform, and 2023 is as far as the vehicle is charted out. Then nothing." The A2XX architecture is the evolution of the original Alpha platform used by the Camaro and the Cadillac ATS and CTS.

GM Authority dug into the platform story. The Cadillac CT4 and CT5 moved to the A2XX chassis, and the Camaro development team started work on a seventh-gen Camaro on the A2XX. According to GMA souces, carmaker bosses "frowned upon" using the A2XX platform for a car coming likely due for the 2024 model year. That's because GM's been working for more than five years on a Vehicle Set Strategy (VSS) modular platform that will put all of the carmaker's products on four vehicle sets by 2025. The initiative was launched this year with the new Chevy Trailblazer and Buick Encore GX, which ride on the VSS-S architecture for crossovers. A seventh-gen Camaro on A2XX would leave an old-world straggler in the brave new-platform world.

The VSS-R will serve rear-wheel-drive and rear-wheel-biased AWD cars. GMA explains the hitch being that the platform is the last to debut in 2025, underpinning a second-gen Cadillac CT6. That would leave at least two years between the sixth-gen Camaro's demise and the new platform's introduction. GMA understands that General Motors considered long-range Camaro development on the VSS-R, but instead chose to go a different way with the pony car first introduced in 1966.

It's easy to read something into GM moving longtime Camaro chief engineer Al Oppenheiser to a position in charge of EV development. Is that really a clue to an eventual electric performance vehicle, one that might carry on the Camaro's name? Or is it GM merely putting one of its most important engineers into one of the carmaker's most important positions? The BEV3 platform is said to incorporate elements of the VSS-R architecture. However, Cadillac will spearhead GM's electric push, and with 20 new EVs planned by 2023 across GM brands — and the stated aim to sell them profitably by 2021 —a low-volume EV sports car doesn't sound like it has a place, at least for the time being. Especially not when the conventional Camaro continues to struggle in the areas of price and design against its conventional competition, and a recent survey of potential future powertrains added more expensive options.

GMA ends by saying "we weren't able to get a clear consensus on the matter." Culling the Camaro lineup in 2022 would mark the 20th anniversary of the last time the Camaro went on hiatus, so there's precedent for a resurrection in some form. It's just as possible that with the next decade being lined up to transform the entire industry, the Camaro — along with many other cherished names — could breathe its last.

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