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GM's lighter 2016 Camaro ups the ante in U.S. muscle car wars

(Credit: Reuters) General Motors Co's all-new Chevrolet 2016 Camaro SIX is seen during its official debut at Belle Isle in Detroit, Michigan May 16, 2015.
Chevrolet 2016 Camaro SIX
May 16
7:33 PM 2015

General Motors Co (GM.N) unveiled the sixth generation of its Chevrolet Camaro on Saturday, upping the ante as Detroit's muscle cars enjoy a renaissance fueled by cheap oil.

Chevrolet marketers staged the official debut of the redesigned Camaro on Belle Isle in downtown Detroit less than a year after Ford Motor Co (F.N) launched the latest version of its rival Mustang sports car.

The Camaro, Mustang and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles' (FCHA.MI) Dodge Challenger, another two-door sports car with styling rooted in the late 1960s, are getting a second wind thanks to lower fuel prices and nostalgia among baby boomers for the glory days of Detroit muscle.

Those days ended some 40 years ago when gas prices spiked and federal fuel efficiency standards kicked in. Now the Detroit companies are using advanced engine and transmission technology to put the old names on cars that in many cases are more powerful, and in all ways safer, than the originals.

The new Camaro, like the new Mustang, represents an evolution in styling, sleeker inside and out, but with numerous visual homages to their late 1960s ancestors. The Camaro is a reminder that consumers in their 50s and older still buy most new cars, even if Chevrolet marketers are increasingly focused on the Millennial generation, people 18 to 34 years old who are now the largest age cohort in the United States.

The 2016 Camaro is longer and wider than the outgoing car but is 200 pounds lighter, GM said. A version of the car will be offered with a 2.0 liter engine GM said should average more than 30 miles per gallon on the highway, better than the previous model. A Camaro SS model will come with a 455 horsepower V-8.

GM has not released prices for the new Camaro, which goes on sale later this year. The current model starts at $24,700.

Sales in the segment that includes the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger have not recovered their pre-recession peak but have been trending up since 2009, according to data from Ford.

Mustang sales are up 60 percent for the first four months of this year, while sales of the Dodge Challenger are up nearly 41 percent for the year, according to figures compiled by Autodata. Sales of the outgoing Camaro are down 15 percent so far this year. A year ago, the Camaro was outselling the Mustang.

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