No vehicle has done this one thing in the history of automobiles. Introduced in 2008 as 2009, the Dodge Challenger has lasted virtually unchanged for 13 years. But that’s not the industry-first it has achieved. The industry-first is that the Challenger has sold more units each subsequent year than it did for 2009. That is an amazing achievement that goes against everything we know about marketing cars and trucks.
Fourth-quarter sales for 2019 came to 14,298 Challengers. Total sales for 2019 were an amazing 60,997 Challengers. Since 2015 Challenger sales have gone past the 60,000 unit mark.
Early sales were stymied by the Chrysler bankruptcy in April 2009
One of the reasons that the Challenger sold less in its first few years of manufacture was that Chrysler was approaching bankruptcy. In 2009 the Challenger’s assembly line-actually all Chrysler assembly lines were shut down on April 30, 2009, when Chrysler filed for bankruptcy.
After the federal government transferred funds to pay creditors in early June 2009, Chrysler resumed production. The turmoil leading up to the closure and over one month of shutdown negatively affected sales for its first year.
By 2013 Dodge doubled sales to over 50,000
By 2013 Dodge had doubled the sales figures for 2009 to over 50,000. Up to that point, the US was still not buying higher fuel consumption vehicles. The economy was in the midst of the “great recession” and the country had generally hunkered down.
From 2013-on the Challenger began hitting ever-increasing numbers reaching over 66,000 units sold by 2015. By offering new models and ever-more-powerful powertrains the Challenger has beaten the odds. Dodge has apparently figured out a subsegment of the population that wants two-door sporty cars with crazy-high horsepower engines.
While you might think the Mustang and Camaro would also fulfill that niche, either they do and there’s still room for more, or the Challenger keeps hitting that sweet spot certain enthusiasts will open their wallets to own.
The Charger is seeing equally backward but welcomed trends
Surprisingly it’s not just Dodge’s Challenger beating these odds. The Charger is seeing equally backward but welcomed trends. In 2009 Dodge sold 60,651 Chargers. In 2019 that number had increased to almost 97,000. Though there was a major facelift in 2010 the current Charger goes all the way back to 2006. For the math-challenged, that’s 15 years.
So 15 years of production and it’s selling better now than when it was a new, fresh car. That’s an incredible feat.
We have no idea what the future holds for Challenger and Charger
What the future holds for the Challenger and Charger Fiat-Chrysler isn’t saying. It’s a transitional time for the company as the merger between it and the French PSA Group is just beginning now. Plans at one point suggested the Fiat Giulia platform would be the basis for the next all-new Charger and Challenger.
But, the merger may have postponed or even killed that vision. The only way the merger works is through the economy of scale. Some brands and platforms are sure to be killed off before things settle down for the merged companies. Already on the chopping block for 2020 are the Dodge Journey and Caravan. That leaves only the Charger, Challenger, and Durango. Three models do not sustain a brand.
But, at the very least we expect the Charger and Challenger to continue at this pace for at least a couple more years. After all, at their ages, the manufacturing costs have been amortized.
Now, it’s like printing money.