You would have thought that giant muscle cars would be the last thing on people’s wish lists following the biggest contraction in economic output of recent times. But that’s not what the data say. When the pandemic first hit, Dodge reported a significant fall in sales. Now, though, dealerships are reporting a spike in sales, more than compensating for the loss earlier in the year. Inventory is shifting at a rapid rate, in what is being heralded as excellent news for the premiums segment of the auto market.
Dodge says that the share of ‘cars’ in the overall auto market has fallen considerably, from more than half to less than 27 per cent. Other types of vehicles, such as SUVs, 4x4s and pickups, have become increasingly popular, as people look for more practical solutions. Interestingly, though, the firm says, the demand for speciality vehicles, like the Challenger, never really went away. People are awestruck by the performance of the 810 BHP Hellcat model. Practicality is the last thing on these customers’ minds.
The muscle car segment of the market tends to ebb and flow, according to industry experts, along with the rest of the market. As the economy recovers, so too will the demand for muscle cars. What’s unusual about this episode is how rapid the changes have been. Economic output collapsed in March and April 2020, and so did sales of the Challenger. But come May and June, things were back on the path to recovery. And many people in the industry think that purchases could return to their normal level by October, barring a second wave.
The reasons for this optimism stem from the number of sales in January and February. Before the lockdown, the industry was “killing it,” selling more Chargers and Challengers than at practically any point in its history. Experts think that sales would have been around 1,000 units per month higher if the pandemic had never hit, underscoring the immense success we’ve seen in recent years.
The Challenger is, in many ways, the ultimate driver’s car. People interested in car detailing love it because of all the opportunities for customisation. Drivers appreciate it too for its raw power, the engine noise, and the effort Dodge has made to help the thing turn better. The car is a throwback to the golden era of muscle cars in the 1960s, but it doesn’t live in the past. The massive engine and power output put it on a level playing field with modern supercars, like the Mercedes GT and the Lamborghini Huracán.
Sales figures for the Challenger will take some time to come through. Still, the Q3 numbers are likely to show an improvement for the industry, if we are to believe the anecdotal evidence.
The Challenger is an ageing vehicle. The first of the current iteration appeared back in 2008. Since then, Dodge has played around with the detailing, but we’re due a new generation soon. The question on everyone’s lips, though, is how the manufacturer is going to improve on perfection.
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