This Is Why Americans Don't Buy Convertibles Anymore

Illustration for article titled This Is Why Americans Dont Buy Convertibles Anymore

Welcome to Must Read, where we single out the best stories from around the automotive universe and beyond. Today, we have reports from Yahoo! Motoramic, Salon and Quartz.


Why America's love affair with convertibles has run off a cliff - Motoramic

It's actually a more complex answer than you think.

Prior to the advent of modern safety regulations in the 1970s, Detroit offered convertible variations of most mainstream and luxury models. Lee Iacocca used convertibles as a selling point for his revival of Chrysler in the 1980s, and even at the turn of the 21st century, domestic automakers showed off several concept soft-tops. Yet with the end of Chrysler 200 convertible production earlier this year, if you want a new convertible from a traditional Detroit brand, but you don't want a Mustang, Camaro or Corvette, you're out of luck.


Henry Ford's reign of terror: Greed and murder in Depression-era DetroitSalon

Ford's Service Department was serious business. And scary business.

The more Edsel learned about Harry Bennett, the more he realized the kind of things of which the Little Man in Henry's Basement was capable. Once, when a hoodlum threatened Henry II, Bennett said he would handle it. "Later on," remembered Edsel's youngest, William, "the guy was found floating face down in the river."

Why more and more Americans are renting cars instead of buying themQuartz

You'll hear from both sides on the leasing vs. buying debate. But this is why leasing is becoming more popular.

It's not just the proportions; the kinds of cars being leased are also changing. Leasing has long played a large role in the US market for luxury vehicles, but in recent years it's gained traction for cheaper cars.

For instance, back in 2002, the share of new Ford, GM, Hyundai and Kia cars that were leased rather than bought was negligible. Now it's 20% or more, according to J.D. Power & Associates data, and other manufacturers of mass-market cars have seen increases in leasing too.


Photo credit: D. Miller

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The article about convertibles missed one key point. Mass-market convertible sales are tied more closely to disposable income. The middle class has been shrinking for years. So when a middle class family, or single person springs for a new car, they need it to fill as many practical roles as possible. This is why the CUV is burgeoning. It'll lug people and loads, get you through the snow, and get 30mpg and a Top Safety Pick.

Convertibles don't. They make for a great second or third car. But the only households wealthy enough for that many new cars aren't going to spend $30k on any of them. And especially not a 4cyl retrimmed Sebring with a cloth interior. Which is what you get for a $28k base price.