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Whether fitted with soft or hard folding lids, today's droptops are better than ever for year-round motoring. Advancements in power top mechanisms, sealing, aerodynamics, structural rigidity, rollover safety and creature comforts like heated and cooled seats mean that modern convertibles are more versatile and better to drive than ever before. Yet the segment's sales took a dive during the recession and haven't come back, Automotive News reports.

Part of that is because automakers are looking at today's more sensible buyers and simply not developing as many new models, and that lack of fresh iron is curbing sales. AN cites R.L. Polk data which notes that only about one percent of new vehicles registered in the US last year had tops that folded. Back in 2009, it was 1.4 percent, and it was 2 percent in 2006. All-in, some 151,636 convertibles were registered in 2012. That's more units more than were registered in each of the past three years, but the market has also grown as the economy has picked up speed, and as a percentage of new vehicles purchased, convertible sales are lagging.

Thus far in 2013, the Ford Mustang is America's top-selling convertible, with 6,421 units registered through the end of April, followed by its rival, the Chevrolet Camaro, at 4,751 units. The Volkswagen Beetle isn't far behind, with 4,305, but from that point, it's a steep drop off to the fourth-place Mercedes-Benz SL-Class and its 2,380 sales.

Some new canvas-backed iron is around the corner and could spark convertible sales, however. A Scion FR-S droptop is expected soon, and fourth-generation Mazda MX-5 Miata is in development alongside an Alfa Romeo roadster. The new Jaguar F-Type is just getting going, and there are new iterations of the Chevrolet Corvette, Mini Cooper and BMW 4 Series (previously known as the 3 Series) waiting in the wings, too. Even so, the industry will likely struggle to reverse the segment's decline if the economy doesn't improve, particularly if automakers can't find ways to attract new, younger buyers.




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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 40 Comments
      moderate fringe
      • 1 Year Ago
      Price is the problem on top of already over-priced cars. Over 8k more for a 3 series BMW ragtop. 7315 dollars more for a V-6 Camaro.
        Chris
        • 1 Year Ago
        @moderate fringe
        It's crazy how much extra they charge for a convertible. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that there was a time when rag tops were actually cheaper than hard tops. If so, whatever happened to those days? Back in the 50s and 60s, even many family haulers and personal luxury cars were convertibles, and you were hard pressed to find a Corvette, or any other 2 seat sports car without one. These days, you are lucky if you spot one amidst the sea of pickups, CUVs, and champaign colored, fwd sedans.
          rtkewley
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          In the days of body on frame construction, creating a convertible was almost literally simply a matter of cutting the roof off. Today, monocoque construction demands carefully engineered structural bracing to replace the rigidity lost by removing the roof. Bottom line, you're comparing apples to oranges.
          JVK
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Chris
          I don't think you are comparing apples to oranges exactly. It still comes down to price, which I think was your main point.
      Doug Danzeisen Sr
      • 1 Year Ago
      I love convertibles, and they are have owned and driven quite a few in my lifetime. One of the impediments to greater popularity is that they average about 5k more than their hardtop counterparts. In this economy that is a real burden for folks who are struggling to make ends meet.
      lyphesaparty
      • 1 Year Ago
      how are they not counting the jeep wrangler under "tops that folded"?? sales of mustang convertible totalled 6500, sales of combined wrangler versions totaled 140,000.
      Avinash Machado
      • 1 Year Ago
      Too few choices nowadays.
      Jesus!
      • 1 Year Ago
      I have been looking for either a glass top roof or convertible Mustang 09 particularly. Why on earth would I pay 27-28k for a BASE Mustang convertible V6 when I can get a perfectly good low mileage 05-09 GT for considerably less? Not only that, the new Mustangs are poorly built save for the interior. I looked at a new GT a week or so ago that had two paint defects and the gaps between the hood and fender are absurd. And I will say when you go to the dealer how many convertibles do you see? Got to have them on the lot to sell. No product, no sale or customer just orders or opts for something already on the lot.
      luigi.tony
      • 1 Year Ago
      I consider FIAT's Wrangler to be a convertible, and it's dominating all other convertibles.
        FutureDoc
        • 1 Year Ago
        @luigi.tony
        I was thinking the same thing
        Jesus!
        • 1 Year Ago
        @luigi.tony
        Fiats Wrangler? Yeah the only thing Fiat owns and sells in my country is a slow turd called the 500.
        keith
        • 1 Year Ago
        @luigi.tony
        +1
      FutureDoc
      • 1 Year Ago
      Also, point out that some roadsters have disappeared. S2K, MR2 etc and many others have had price increases... speaking of prices 'Stang drop-top: 27K+, Camero 30+ Beetle 25K+... expensive and they are all "Baby-Boomer" live you past glory cars. First company to develop another inexpensive drop-top might have a hit... heck a drop-top Civic would be great. Anything less than a Camry LE pricepoint.
      • 1 Year Ago
      [blocked]
      Radioactive Flea
      • 1 Year Ago
      When I go to Porsche auctions, it is always the convertibles that don’t sell.
        Gator
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Radioactive Flea
        That's because no one in their right mind would ever buy a convertible Porsche. A Mustang is way less cars, but I would say the GT would be just as fun to smash around town with the top down.
      yo
      • 1 Year Ago
      I can tell you one reason convertibles stopped selling... no matter who makes them...in less than three years the top looks completely trashed and ruins the look of the car. People are stupid. They have wised up
      CJ_313
      • 1 Year Ago
      I believe the Fiat 500c would be a good vehicle for other automakers to study, as it incorporates the feeling of a convertible without the vulnerability & hassle of having a true soft top year-around (which I think is becoming a relic), and I'd assume is probably much less expensive to produce than full mechanical soft-tops. Open-top hatchbacks similar to the Fiat 500c, such as the Chevy Sonic, Ford Fiesta would probably sell well with a sub-$20k price tag.
      BB79826
      • 1 Year Ago
      Wait, where's the 200? I know it's a piece of crap, but most of the car rental "convertibles" are 200s. Right?
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