Chevy’s chief Camaro engineer admitted that the Ford Mustang is crushing them in terms of sales, but that Chevrolet plans to fight back.
We recently took a good look at the 1LE package that’s coming to the 2019 Camaro LT, and we found a lot to like. The upgrades offered vastly improve the Camaro’s handling and offer an entry-level ticket to track day shenanigans.
And it comes at an important time for the Camaro. The Chevy muscle car has been steadily losing ground to its arch-rival, the Ford Mustang, to the point where it’s lost the lead and is being left in the Mustang’s dust.
"Frankly, they've been eating our lunch," Camaro lead engineer Al Oppenheiser recently told Automotive News.
At the higher level trims, such as the Camaro SS, things are roughly equal with the Mustang GT. However, the Mustang has been crushing the Camaro at the more affordable end of the scale, with the EcoBoost vastly outselling the Camaro 1LS and 1LT.
"The low [transaction prices] of a four-cylinder ... that's where the bulk of the sales are and that's where our pricing strategy needed improvement,” said Oppenheiser. “We plan to go head to head — and win."
Chevrolet has already cut prices on the 1LS by about $1,000, and also dropped prices on the 1LT and 2LT trims. Bringing the price of the 1LT down has allowed them to offer the new (to the trim) 1LE performance package at a discount, with the Turbo 1LE model starting at just $30,995 ($4,500 for the 1LE Track Package on top of $26,495 for base LT trim).
However, questions remain about whether it will be enough to turn the tide. Mustang sales really started to pull ahead in 2015 when it had a 6th generation redesign. This brought more power to the base-level EcoBoost--310 hp and 350 lb-ft of torque. Compare that to the Camaro’s 275 hp and 295 lb-ft, and you can see a clear winner.
To a price-conscious customer looking to buy some American muscle, power is all that matters. The Turbo 1LE Camaro will certainly outmaneuver the Mustang once it goes on sale, but it seems doubtful that will change the mental calculus of choosing between the two cars.