The Dodge Challenger is very, very old, but it doesn’t matter. For the first time since the car appeared for the 2008 model year, Dodge has sold more Challengers than Ford and Chevrolet Mustangs and Camaros.
Some will attribute that to the shortage of chips, and it’s entirely possible that Dodge and its dealer network have responded better to it than its crosstown rivals, as brand CEO Tim Kuniskis recently suggested. Automotive news in an interview. But to Stellantis’s credit, the Challenger’s rise above the competition has been a trend for about half a decade. Sales of the Mustang and Camaro have only fallen since 2015, when Ford’s numbers peaked. Incidentally, 2015 was the year in which the current generation Mustang came on the market.
Ford moved 122,349 Mustangs in 2015, while Dodge moved barely more than half that number: 66,377 Challengers. Last year, 54,314 Challengers rolled off dealer lots, compared to 52,414 Mustangs. Meanwhile, the Camaro languished far behind, at 21,893.
Kuniskis firmly believes that Dodge’s goal is not to become the leader in the segment, but rather a welcome prize for weathering the supply storm, and a sign that his team is aligned with what customers want from muscle cars want: a sense of community, supposedly.
The Challenger’s uniqueness, he said, has been a driver of its staying power in the market. The speedster “isn’t trying to follow anyone else,” Kuniskis said.
“That’s why I said we don’t wake up trying to chase down Mustang and Camaro,” he said Automotive news. Not that I don’t think they’re viable competitors. They are phenomenal cars; they are just different cars. They are different from what we are trying to do.”
How is the Challenger different? Kuniskis doesn’t really elaborate, but John Grant, owner of Sahara Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Las Vegas, seems close to an answer:
Las Vegas dealer John Grant said it was great to sell the Mustang better, but he knows that wasn’t Dodge’s ultimate motive. Grant said Kuniskis has made an effort to provide products to the “Dodge family” of enthusiasts and build relationships with them.
“Suddenly we had to figure out how to sell the incoming, and people like that,” Grant said. “People like to order them, and [for] that Dodge Challenger, you can change the seats and the engine and the colors. The customer base has just embraced that.”
The Challenger is a bit like the snowflake of the car world – not in the pejorative language your uncle is familiar with on Facebook, but in the sense of inspirational quotes. No two are the same. I’ve never been to a Challenger owner’s meeting, but I imagine they look like Skittles from above, scattered across the tarmac in an assortment of shades with unique graphics and all sorts of hood shovel patterns, some with flared fenders and others without. Get a glimpse of the Challenger’s build-and-price siteand there are no less than 11 different trim packages, each with its own name, for sale:
There aren’t that many Mustang or Camaro flavours. And in the case of the Camaro, they follow GM’s exciting naming scheme – various combinations of a number with the letter “L”, “T” and “S”, for those feeling particularly sporty. That doesn’t exactly ring a bell like “R/T Scat Pack”, let’s face it.
That’s not to say that most Challenger buyers are abandoning the lot with the more luxurious packages. An owner of another CDJR dealer confirmed the same in the article, although he also said that the Scat pack is picking up steam:
Huntington Beach Chrysler-Dodge-Jeep-Ram in Southern California was the top selling Dodge store in the US last year. General Manager Mike Harrington said the Challenger’s V-6-powered GT variant has been the volume leader, with a starting price of just under $35,000. But he said the more powerful Scat Pack model runs the fastest.
I don’t have a pony – sorry – in this race, but I will praise Dodge for doing the most with the eldest. The challenger only has two years left, topsand I have a feeling the 2024 run will set sales records as people try to get their hands on the very last of the ICE muscle car breed. If the supply chain allows Stellantis to build enough of them.