You Can’t Buy 2021 Camaros in California and Washington Anymore

Last month Chevy dealers in both California and Washington found they could not order 2021 Camaro SS, Camaro 2SS, Camaro ZL1, or Camaro ZL1 1LE models. This applied to both coupes and convertibles. So for Camaro buyers, you can’t buy 2021 Camaros in California and Washington anymore. What is up with that?

The folks at GM Authority reached out to Chevy and confirmed the bad news but also got more info. “Due to restrictions in California and Washington state related to copper brake pads, customers in those states cannot order a 2021 Camaro SS, ZL1, and 1LE for delivery after January 1, 2021,” said Senior Manager, Chevrolet Cars and Crossover Communications at General Motors, Kevin M. Kelly. “Customers can, however, purchase these models from available dealer stock in those states.”

California and Washington have had copper restrictions for over a decade

A 2020 Chevy Camaro on display at an auto show
A 2021 Chevy Camaro on display | Getty

Both California and Washington have had restrictions on how much copper can be in brake pads for over a decade. But tighter restrictions take effect for 2021 with even lower copper-content caps in 2025. Pads can contain no more than 5% copper by weight starting in 2021. It increases to no more than 0.5% by 2025.

“We will resume allowing customers in California and Washington state to order the Camaro SS, ZL1 and 1LE models in 2022 when we introduce a new brake system that is compliant with the copper requirements,” Kelly says. But this makes no sense for a couple of reasons. First, brake pads are a removable component of the brake system. Why not just put lower content brake pads on Camaros and move on?

Secondly, these restrictions have been defined since 2010 when manufacturers were first notified. So, for over 10 years GM has known about this, and it appears has made the change in every vehicle it sells in California in 2021. Except for the Camaro. Why doesn’t this one make get the proper pads? Especially since all the other vehicles it makes already have them? 

Some speculate this has to do with the Camaro having Brembo brakes

Brembo brakes | Getty

What Makes Brembo Brakes So Expensive, And Is It Worth The Added Cost?

Some are speculating this has to do with the Camaro having Brembo brakes. But the new 2020 Corvette features Brembo brakes. Though they are different Brembo brakes, it is obvious that Brembo knows how to manufacture low-copper-content disc brakes. 

The state of California found that copper water pollution was a big problem in most urban areas. Based on the Clean Water Act it found over 80 bodies of water with dangerous levels of copper. Dust generated by vehicle brakes is far and away from the most significant contributor to copper content is California waters. This is based on studies by the Brake Pad Partnership. The partnership is a scientific collaborative group made up of industry, government, and environmental scientists.

This is just another weird GM move that can’t be rationally explained. Maybe it has to do with Camaro sales falling so badly. The 2020 model year saw 22,000 Camaros were sold. We all know this was a bad year due to the Coronavirus but regardless, it is well behind 2019’s almost 50,000 sales. The good news for Camaro enthusiasts in these states that think they might want a new Camaro, they’ll be back in 2022 according to Chevy. And when they do come back they’ll have better Brembo brake pads.