Why, it seems like just yesterday (it was April) when General Motors dropped the first photos of the updated 2019 Chevrolet Camaro, leaving enthusiasts everywhere uttering a collective, “whuh?” Now it turns out the Camaro SS’ new face—which hasn’t been doing it any favors from a sales perspective—could get a redesign very soon.
This report comes to us from GM Authority, which claims that one of the two front fascias we saw on the Camaro’s Shock Yellow SEMA concept car last week—the one with the colored bar across the front and the Chevy bowtie up top in the narrow grille—is being “fast-tracked for production.” That’s the design pictured up top.
If accurate, the concept’s grille would replace this one with a horizontal black bar:
And this one:
It’s a subtle change, but a good one if it happens. The updated Camaro’s all-black, gaping maw was a bizarre choice that ruined its aggressive looks and made it seem, I don’t know, too tall? Too wide? It’s a mess.
Here’s what GM Authority has to say about the reasoning here:
Despite being able to dogfight cars twice or even three times its price on the road course, sales have contracted since the launch of the sixth-generation Camaro, and the design refresh has reportedly done little to change things, say dealers.
2019 Camaro SS models have made their way onto lots over the past month or so, but the take rate and interest in the vehicle has said to have dropped. Hence the snap decision to introduce a “concept” fascia design for the car during next week’s 2018 SEMA Show in Las Vegas.
And they’re spot on. Everyone knows the current Camaro is a superb performance machine with some of the best handling and power you can get at any price. Problem is, its sales aren’t doing great at the moment.
There are a lot of reasons for this, from a declining sports car market in general as the world shifts to SUVs and crossovers to the Camaro’s own struggles with visibility. I’d add that at the end of the day, despite being on a wholly new platform, the Gen 6 Camaro doesn’t look that different from the one that preceded it, and that’s never a great recipe for sales success.
Indeed, even the Camaro’s chief engineer groused to Automotive News recently that its competitors the Mustang and Challenger are way ahead in the sales race. He attributed this, in part, to the Camaro’s focus on more expensive, higher-end variants that have priced out people who might have cross-shopped it against a hot hatchback instead. Camaro sales are down 28 percent this year, reportedly a decline three times worse than the average sports car sales drop:
Chevy officials originally said they were fine with ceding some volume in the interest of profitability, but this year the Camaro has dropped to an embarrassing third place — in a three-vehicle segment — behind the Mustang and the Dodge Challenger, which sits on a more than decade-old platform.
Now, Chevy is trying to fight back by targeting the lower end of the pricing spectrum, where Ford and Dodge have been thriving.
“Frankly, they’ve been eating our lunch,” Al Oppenheiser, chief engineer of the Camaro, said of the Mustang in particular. “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. We plan to go head to head — and win.”
And clearly, the updated face isn’t helping a bad situation. My guess is based on this, Chevrolet could rush out the SEMA-inspired grille for the 2020 SS version, but it’s unclear what’ll happen to the updated face of the four-cylinder and V6 models, which aren’t that great-looking either.
Best of luck to all involved.