Ford Motor Co. is shutting its Mustang factory in Michigan for a week after the iconic sports car suffered a 32% sales decline in the U.S. last month and was outsold by the Chevrolet Camaro for the first time in almost two years.
The second-largest U.S. automaker idled the factory in Flat Rock, south of Detroit, to match production capacity with demand. The plant, which employs 3,702 workers and makes Mustangs and Lincoln Continentals, will resume production Oct. 17, a spokesperson said.
The idling may be a sign of the growing weakness of the U.S. auto market, which had been a leading driver of economic growth. Automakers’ monthly sales have been coming up short — though they beat expectations in September — and many analysts are now predicting the U.S. auto industry won’t match last year’s record of 17.5 million cars and light trucks.
Mustang, which is among Ford’s most storied nameplates, received a racy redesign two years ago on the car’s 50th anniversary. That new look helped propel the Mustang past the Camaro in 2015 to regain its title as the top-selling sports car in America, which it had held for decades before General Motors Co. redesigned the Camaro in 2010.
Camaro overtook Mustang last month for the first time since October 2014 on the strength of incentives that more than tripled last month to $3,409 (U.S). per car, compared with an average discount of $2,602 on the Ford pony car, according to data from researcher J.D. Power.
Ford has sold 87,258 Mustangs in the U.S. this year, down 9.3%, while GM had Camaro sales of 54,535, off 11% according to researcher Autodata Corp. Ford chief executive officer Mark Fields has said the U.S. auto market has plateaued and that showroom sales are weakening.
With a slowing market for cars, Camaro’s inventory rose to a 139-day supply at the end of August, said Jim Cain, a GM spokesman. The incentives, coming at the end of the 2016 model year, helped lower Camaro supply to 120 days, still twice what is consider an optimum inventory. Mustang supply rose to 89 days at the end of September from 71 days a month earlier.
The deals on the Camaro will cool off this month as GM rolls out the 2017 model, Cain said.