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Convertibles Drive Into The Sunset As Automakers Invest In Electric Vehicles


By Michael Wayland

Convertibles — once a sign of open-air freedom, road trips and summer adventures — are fading away as the auto industry shifts to all-electric cars and more rugged sport utility vehicles.

Sales of traditional drop-tops such as the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang, as well as roadsters such as the Mazda Miata, have plummeted in the U.S. to fewer than 100,000 vehicles annually, according to S&P Global Mobility. That’s down from a recent peak of nearly 320,000 vehicles, or 2% of all new U.S. vehicle sales, in 2006, and roughly 144,200, or 0.8%, in 2015.

Reasons for the decline of convertibles include practicality, durability, cost increases, and new panoramic sunroofs and glass tops, according to experts. Automakers are also investing capital in off-road models and electric vehicles.

“The trajectory has been down and there just isn’t as strong of a consumer interest,” said Stephanie Brinley, principal automotive analyst at S&P Global Mobility. “In the transition to electric vehicles, and where do automakers put their development money, it just isn’t going to convertibles.”

Including SUVs that are considered convertibles by federal safety standards, such as the Jeep Wrangler and Ford Bronco, doesn’t help sales too much. Even counting those vehicles, sales last year were down by 26% since 2015. They were off 21% from then until 2019, which is the last year the automotive industry wasn’t experiencing significant production or supply chain disruptions.

The decline in sales has occurred amid a drop in the number of convertibles and roadsters — two-seat vehicles with drop-tops or removable roofs — from 29 models in 2011 to 23 models in 2019. But many current vehicles are high-end or low-volume models from super premium automakers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, and other luxury carmakers.

This article originally appeared here and was republished with permission.


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