Dwindling Cabriolet Market Affecting Automakers, Suppliers Alike

Cameron Aubernon
by Cameron Aubernon

If you’re a fan of convertibles, then you may find your selection dwindling as more consumers go for a different image, affecting automakers and suppliers alike.

Automotive News Europe reports manufacturers like Volkswagen and Peugeot are cutting down the number of cabriolets in their portfolios as a result of the following:

  • Popularity: In the two biggest markets for such vehicles — North America and Europe — the convertible experienced sales of 827,000 unit in 2007, but only 444,000 in 2013. The drop is likely the result of consumers moving toward crossovers and SUVs, along with other image-making vehicles like the Toyota Prius and Tesla Model S.
  • Limited market: Even when popularity was at its peak, not everyone wanted the wind in their hair. Convertibles were most popular in places like England, Sweden, California and Florida — the latter two were the result of transplants from colder, wetter regions who now wanted to soak up the sun — while few were sold in places like Dubai, China and Singapore.
  • Other options: Consumers shopping for new vehicles can have theirs with a panoramic roof, delivering blue skies to all without needing to apply a ton of Aqua Net or toupee glue before heading out. Further, SUVs and cabriolets are image vehicles that can replace each other, though such a swap hurts the latter more than the former in the new-vehicle market. Finally, convertibles have a higher residual value, and tend to do better in the used-vehicle market than when first purchased.

Thus, as automakers trim their open-top offerings, suppliers like Valmet and Magna CTS fear their time may soon come to call it a day. CEO for the largest supplier of roof systems, Webasto’s Holger Engelmann, says the market won’t be able to sustain three major players in the supply game. Both Webasto and Valmet — the third largest; Magna CTS is No. 2 — have shuttered facilities over the years amid the shrinking market, with Valmet closing its German operations by 2017.

Cameron Aubernon
Cameron Aubernon

Seattle-based writer, blogger, and photographer for many a publication. Born in Louisville. Raised in Kansas. Where I lay my head is home.

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  • Pete Zaitcev Pete Zaitcev on Oct 17, 2014

    Wrangler is easily convertible even with a hardtop. There are some prerequisites, of course. The biggest is, you cannot carry the hardtop with you if you take it off (unless you tow a trailer :-). Therefore, hardtop Wranglers are converted at a campsite or in garage. I drop my top pretty often in the warm weather.

  • Jeff S Jeff S on Oct 18, 2014

    @Zachman--I live in Hebron, KY and commute to downtown Cincinnati on the bus. There would be few times that I would use the top down on a convertible but on occasion we open the sunroof.

  • Daniel J I love my mazda 6. It's getting harder and harder to drive it around where I live as municipalities fail to repair roads. SUVs are just easier to drive with all of the potholes.
  • 1995 SC On the plus side, I found a sedan I want to buy
  • Teddyc73 As I asked earlier under another article, when did "segment" or "class" become "space"? Does using that term make one feel more sophisticated? If GM's products in other segments...I mean "space" is more profitable then sedans then why shouldn't they discontinue it.
  • Robert Absolutely!!! I hate SUV's , I like the better gas milage and better ride and better handling!! Can't take a SUV 55mph into a highway exit ramp! I can in my Malibu and there's more than enough room for 5 and trunk is plenty big enough for me!
  • Teddyc73 Since when did automakers or car companies become "OEM". Probably about the same time "segment" or "class" became "space". I wish there were more sedans. I would like an American sedan. However, as others have stated, if they don't sell in large enough quantities to be profitable the automakers...I mean, "OEMs" aren't going to build them. It's simple business.