I used to work for a company that produced convertibles for the OEMs (ASC Incorporated) and wondered what has happened to the convertible market recently, particularly since the general collapse of the automobile market in 2009. Not surprisingly, convertibles were particularly hard hit during the automotive downturn.
Convertible volumes traditionally have hovered between 1.8% to 2.0% of the market depending on the number of convertible entries available, overall automotive market health and the freshness of some of the market-leading convertibles. During the downturn, the convertible segment fell to 1.4 to 1.2% of the market.
The question now is, “Will this market be able to rebound to the 1.8 – 2.0% market share that we have seen in the past?” In 2011, we are seeing a slight uptick in convertible volumes – up about 3% from the same period last year, but this lags the overall recovery of the automotive market which increased 15.6% from CYTD of a year ago. The convertible market is losing share.
On the positive side, some new convertible models are doing very well in the market. The new Camaro convertible is leading all convertibles with over 7,500 registrations so far this year. The Mercedes E Class and Mitsubishi Eclipse convertibles are also doing very well. The Chrysler 200 Convertible is also helping offset lost sales from the Sebring Convertible which has been a top-seller in years past. New product is one of the keys to driving sales of convertibles.
Currently there is a real focus in the market on fuel efficient, economical and practical vehicles – not a recipe for a convertible revival. My prediction is that when the economy improves and when consumers start to feel better about their financial situations, we will see an uptick in convertible sales. The new Camaro and 200 convertibles will help generate excitement, but until we see a shift in consumer sentiment the convertible segment will be one of the last segments to recover.
After reading my blog this morning, Jeff Gilbert, Car Chronicles from CBS Detroit contacted me for an interview. Linked here are two short podcasts he made from the inteview.