Trendwatch: Sales of convertibles from volume brands decline 20%

We don’t like to be purveyors of bad news at Changing Lanes, but sometimes the stats speak for themselves. The mass-market convertible is in decline.

According to Automotive News Europe and JATO Dynamics, premium convertibles outsold volume convertibles in Europe for the first time in 2014, since the two started tracking this segment in 2003.

European sales of convertibles from premium carmakers were flat at 81,361 units in 2014, while sales of convertibles from volume brands declined 20% to 65,739 units.

The mass market convertible, typically with a fancy folding metal roof, was the must have of the moment circa 2006 but they are now becoming increasingly squeezed out of the market by classier offerings from premium carmakers, a change in customer preferences and the emergence of new niches like the crossover and compact SUV segments.

The impact is that many of these models from volume carmakers face extinction as buyers get their convertible fix from premium brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, or hop into a new crossover or other fashionable small car (many of the latter which now give that open top driving feeling with the help of a folding canvas roof but without the drawbacks of going “fully topless”).

Volkswagen has already confirmed that the Eos will be discontinued this year, while Peugeot, who once enjoyed great success with the likes of the 206CC/207CC/307CC/308CC models, currently has no obvious successors in their recently revamped 208 and 308 ranges.

Others have already bitten the dust; the Renault Wind and Opel Tigra are gone, and in Ireland the Volkswagen Eos and Renault Mégane Coupé-Convertible are absent from the brand’s Irish model line-ups.

The convertible market is very small here; only 123 were shifted in 2014, which was a relatively good year for the motor industry. In 2007 at the height of the boom, we were a bit more interested in them with just over 2000 sold.

So it looks like goodbye to the mass-market convertible. Will you be sad?

Caroline Kidd