Declining demand for drop-tops across the globe is hurting the world’s three largest suppliers of convertible roof systems.
Automotive News Europe reports that production of convertibles in Europe and North America has almost halved in the past seven years, plummeting from 827,000 in 2007 to 444,000 in 2013.
Convertibles’ share of those two key markets has fallen from 5.4 per cent in the first half of 2007 to 3.3 per cent in the same period this year.
In recent years, the Ford Focus CC, Holden/Opel Astra TwinTop and Volvo C70 have all been discontinued. Peugeot has no plans to replace the 207 CC or 308 CC, the Volkswagen Eos appears all but done, and a new-generation Renault Megane CC remains unconfirmed.
Webasto, the world’s largest supplier of roof systems with a market share of approximately 49 per cent, has closed facilities in recent years as a result of the falling demand for open-top models.
Valmet, the Finnish company that took over Karmann’s roof manufacturing operations in 2010, also plans to close its soft-top production facility in Germany in 2017.
Webasto CEO Holger Engelmann told Automotive News he does not believe there is enough business to support three major companies into the future, likely signalling trouble for either Valmet, which has an approximate 15 per cent share of the market, and Magna CTS, with 34 per cent.
Matthias Meyer from analysis firm Research Fellows blames the increasing variety of body styles now available, such as SUVs and crossovers, for flagging convertible sales, as well as the emergence of large panoramic glass roofs.
Trend researcher Sven Gabor Janszky says the people who purchased convertibles wanted to show others they enjoyed life and had the money to spend on a lifestyle vehicle.
“Today, people would rather show that they are something special or that ecology is very important to them by buying an electric car such as the Tesla or the BMW i3,” he said.