The muscle car market continues to take a beating during the COVID-19 pandemic, but a turnaround could be right around the corner. That’s according to FCA head of passenger vehicles Tim Kuniskis. We got a chance to speak to the high-profile industry executive after the debut of the 2020 Dodge Challenger Super Stock, 2020 Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, and limited-run 2020 Dodge Durango SRT Hellcat. At the moment, Dodge isn’t hitting the panic button over the sales results.
“The last 20 years cars have went from 55 percent of the industry to 27 percent of the industry… the reality is that you gotta dig below that surface and see what has dropped. What has really dropped are the soulless commodities,” noted Kuniskis. “But the cars that have a unique identity really have not dropped.”
Kuniskis noted that the muscle car segment tends to ebb and flow just as the industry as a whole does. Which means the market share of the segment tends to remain the same. Considering the 17-plus million vehicles sold last year, that meant the Dodge Challenger and Dodge Charger sold incredibly well.
“The last half of last year was the best six months we’ve ever had in the history of (Charger and Challenger). And we were coming into 2020 riding high,” said Kuniskis. It wasn’t long into the year until the COVID-19 pandemic brought auto sales to a halt.
“We were gonna kill it, then Covid set us back… January and February we were killing it,” he said. “The first part of March we were doing really good because we sell a lot of cars in Florida and Texas… we did relatively okay considering. But we ran out of cars.”
With plants closing, vehicle supplies across the industry were strained. And with plants struggling to build back up to capacity, this issue persists.
“I bet you we would have sold 1,000 more muscle cars last month had we had stock,” said Kuniskis. “Our number one seller right now is the Scat Pack, and we probably have 200 Scat Packs in the whole country, they’re gone… by the middle of July we should have stock built back up.”
During that time period, Dodge took sold orders for the Charger and Challenger, and Kuniskis is anticipating a sales recovery for the pair of muscle cars.
“We have a couple thousand sold orders still coming. July and August we’ll be kicking hard again. August is going to suck from a year over year comparison, though, because last August we launched Dodge Power Dollars.”
We’ll have to wait until October, when FCA publishes its Q3 sales results, to see how this plays out.