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Old 06-03-2014, 02:41 PM   #1
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Lightbulb Why America's love affair with convertibles has run off a cliff

https://autos.yahoo.com/blogs/motoramic/why-america-s-love-affair-with-the-convertible-has-run-off-a-cliff-214537077.html

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Americans fell in love with convertibles decades before Ike Turner composed the original rock-n-roll song in 1951 about the Oldsmobile Rocket 88 with a convertible top that "the gals don't mind." Some 20 years later, Bruce Springsteen wrote "Born to Run" in a '57 Chevy Bel Air drop top, and if there's a better way to explain how open-air driving embodies our freedom to move, I'm not aware of it.

But after years of decline, America's love affair with convertibles has gone cold.

As recently as 2006, automakers sold more than 300,000 convertibles a year in the United States, according to IHS Automotive/Polk registration data, or just more than 2 percent of all sales. Last year, drop-top sales fell to 151,789, or 0.99 percent of the market and through March, the most recent data available, sales of convertibles were off 4 percent, even as the overall market has surged.

Prior to the advent of modern safety regulations in the 1970s, Detroit offered convertible variations of most mainstream and luxury models. Lee Iacocca used convertibles as a selling point for his revival of Chrysler in the 1980s, and even at the turn of the 21st century, domestic automakers showed off several concept soft-tops. Yet with the end of Chrysler 200 convertible production earlier this year, if you want a new convertible from a traditional Detroit brand, but you don't want a Mustang, Camaro or Corvette, you're out of luck. (Yes, Jeep Wrangler fans, you consider your SUV a convertible, and we're all jealous, but statisticians classify it as a truck.)

The departure of the 200 also shortens the list of open-air cars available for less than $30,000. There's the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the VW Beetle, the Fiat 500c, the Mini Cooper, the Smart ForTwo Cabrio and the Mustang — and nothing else. Here's a few reasons why the coolest cars of summer have become so rare:

— Cost to build. The name of the global carbuilding game today is platform sharing; building as many variations from the same basic chassis and electronics as possible. (The most extreme example: Volkswagen, which plans to build 5 million vehicles by 2018 across four brands and dozens of models with one basic chassis.)

It's relatively easy to grow a sedan into a crossover SUV, or shrink it into a coupe, but convertibles require far more engineering work, from the roof-folding mechanism to preventing body shake from the lack of a hard roof — expensive resources for a variation that's rarely a big seller. Take Toyota, the world's best-selling and most profitable automaker with nearly 10 million vehicles sold in 2013 — and which offers exactly one convertible model worldwide, the Lexus IS C.

"Manufacturers really view it as a luxury," said Tom Libby, a consultant for IHS Automotive's Loyalty Practice, an industry research firm. "When they’re prioritizing their product programs, I don’t think that's going to make the cut unless they have a lot of resources sitting around."

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— Fuel economy. Thanks to those engineering needs, convertibles inevitably weigh more than hard-roof vehicles. At a time where automakers are remixing paints to save every ounce of weight they can for better fuel efficiency under strict rules in the United States and Europe, convertibles get that much tougher to justify in the planning stages.

— Quality. Most convertibles inevitably require more maintenance, and create more wind noise or leaks that turn up as demerits in annual quality surveys like Consumer Reports. Diehard convertible fans will buy them year after year regardless, but many owners who try them once move back.

— Seasonal sales. In much of the country, convertible buyers hibernate for five months of the year, leaving dealers either stuck with cars they have to pay interest on or automakers stuck with idled factory tooling because dealers won't order them. Just today, Cars.com data showed that the average 2014 Chrysler 200 convertible was sitting on dealers' lots for nearly six months, or three times longer than the average vehicle.

— Crossovers. It's one thing to make a coupe like the Chrysler 200 or Toyota Camry Solara into a convertible; it's almost impossible to do it with a soft-roading SUV like, say, a Ford Escape. Now that young buyers have moved wholesale into such models in place of small sedans or coupes, roof-less variations seem ridiculous (as proven by the Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet.)

"A high proportion of convertibles used to be in the lower segments — like the Chevy Cavalier, or Pontiac Sunfire — and that smaller, sporty concept has really diminished," Libby said.

— China. As Bloomberg BusinessWeek notes, convertibles are rare in China because buyers there prefer to shut out the dirty air rather than bask in it, and as the largest market for new cars in the world, China will soon set trends for the rest of the globe. It's a trend shared in many developing markets: Feeling the wind in your hair makes you come alive; sucking fumes from the dump truck you're stuck next to in city traffic does not.

Even the most pessimistic forecast doesn't predict the end of convertibles entirely. Detroit's muscle cars still do a healthy business in drop-top variations, and German luxury automakers maintain a sizable lineup of them, from the Mercedes-Benz E-Class to the BMW 3-Series to the Rolls-Royce Phaeton Drophead. And every so often, an automaker still rolls out a convertible concept at an auto show, like Toyota's FT-86 Open.

But convertible fans now face a supply/demand spiral; fewer models mean fewer buyers, which means even fewer models in the future. Convertibles will only come back if drop-top fans find more tramps like themselves, born to run.


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Old 06-03-2014, 05:47 PM   #2
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Yeah its bad and that convertible Murano needs to dissappear off the face of the earth when it comes to convertibles.
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Old 06-03-2014, 09:36 PM   #3
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Too bad for the guy writing the article. My girl and I have just started our love affair with the convertible.

Happy motoring.

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Old 06-04-2014, 08:01 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by rp17 View Post
Yeah its bad and that convertible Murano needs to dissappear off the face of the earth when it comes to convertibles.
I love the looks I get in mine!!

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Old 06-04-2014, 08:28 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by BYprodriver View Post
I love the looks I get in mine!!

i'm sorry, but that is fugly

to each his(hers) own
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Old 06-04-2014, 11:48 AM   #6
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Wow, Ekam, that's an amazing article, thanks for posting.

I can see that all adding up to a lot less convertibles.

They're going to become a true luxury in the near future.
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:38 PM   #7
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I found the reason why:

Is your convertible damaging your hearing? -- ScienceDaily

Pros and Cons of Convertible Cars | Convertible Cars
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Old 06-04-2014, 04:43 PM   #8
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The real reason we all know , is that they're girls cars .

That's right , not fun cars but girls cars .



After all , no REAL man would be seen dead driving an lmp spyder or carrera gt or f1 car etc ....
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Old 06-04-2014, 06:20 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayG View Post
i'm sorry, but that is fugly

to each his(hers) own
It was a joke if you saw the hiding next to the pic.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:06 PM   #10
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If I could add - people don't seem to make use of their convertibles very often. Where my parents are in California, the tops are always down, but here in DFW everybody's tops are almost always up. Even in the beautiful weather we've had lately.
Maybe it's a comfort thing -the shade and AC, I don't know. But I imagine all these people driving around in convertibles with their tops up won't buy one again.
My philosophy is top down unless wet stuff is falling from the sky, and always keep a "chick sweatshirt" in the trunk for cold passengers (i.e. my wife).
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:22 PM   #11
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[QUOTE=Jager;404054]I found the reason why:

Is your convertible damaging your hearing? -- ScienceDaily

Been wearing ear plugs while riding my motorcycle for years. Hearing loss from years of exposure to wind noise while riding a motorcycle is well know (and mostly ignored) and shortly after getting the Boxster and driving it at speed I thought to myself that this is as bad as riding a motorcycle without ear plugs.

Having said that I am not sure this a driver of lower sales. Convertibles are a luxury and frankly there are just fewer people today that can afford this luxury then 10 years ago. I don't see that improving any time sooner.
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:34 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by CraigM View Post
If I could add - people don't seem to make use of their convertibles very often. Where my parents are in California, the tops are always down, but here in DFW everybody's tops are almost always up. Even in the beautiful weather we've had lately.
Maybe it's a comfort thing -the shade and AC, I don't know. But I imagine all these people driving around in convertibles with their tops up won't buy one again.
My philosophy is top down unless wet stuff is falling from the sky, and always keep a "chick sweatshirt" in the trunk for cold passengers (i.e. my wife).
My top is down as much as possible. I keep a windbreaker in the truck if it get a little cold. I have only had the Boxster for a couple of months and here in San Diego its about 9-10 months of great convertible weather. Years ago I had another rag top and loved to drive at night and cool weather top down. A jacket and the heater are the way to go. It would be nice to have heated seats as well
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Old 06-04-2014, 08:36 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dragonwind View Post
It was a joke if you saw the hiding next to the pic.
missed it LOL
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Old 06-05-2014, 05:27 AM   #14
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My Boxster is my second convertible (and certainly not the last). I do notice a lot of people don't use the roofs (as evidenced by the pristine, unwrinkled fabric). Maybe they buy them as a status symbol I suppose. Though admittedly if it's a very hot day I'll keep the roof up if I have somewhere to go to avoid getting to sweaty, but at night it's down.
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Old 06-05-2014, 06:14 AM   #15
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I got tired of it and had my hard top on for the last three years.

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Old 06-05-2014, 11:48 AM   #16
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Here's my take on why the convertible has declined;

Back in the hey day of convertibles, everyone at nearly every level of income wanted to look cool. Cars were a statement whatever your socio-financial situation. So there were expensive, medium-priced, and even low priced drop-tops.

Today's non-luxury car buyer is simply looking for a transportation appliance. They don't care about making a statement so they generally want the cheapest, most reliable method of getting from Point A to Point B. This is the world of the Civic, Accord, Corolla, and Camry, and expensive engineering and components are simply not part of the recipe.

Your thoughts?
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Old 06-05-2014, 02:07 PM   #17
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"The departure of the 200 also shortens the list of open-air cars available for less than $30,000. There's the Mazda MX-5 Miata, the VW Beetle, the Fiat 500c, the Mini Cooper, the Smart ForTwo Cabrio and the Mustang — and nothing else."


That's your problem right there. Millenialls have no money so $30K and up prices them out.
Babyboomers at Medicaid age aren't free spending on anything as they're expected to live longer and need to stretch out those dollars longer.
So it's basically the Gen X'ers and a segment of the baby boomers how have the means. They're more in love with bloated sedans and SUV's in the big ticket categories. The image of being wealthy and exclusive means Range Rover or E class/Audi/Bimmer etc. and not the California tanning machine cruiser.
So what's left? Those interested in a convertible but not wanting to spend more than $30k.
Two chick cars (beetle, Fiat) a muscle car (Mustang) and the now old hat Miata(to the average non-enthusiast) are simply not enough options to support an increase in convertible sales. More like a steep drop.

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