North America has always led the global convertible market, but hit a near-record low in 2014 with just 164,000 units sold in the region. While consumers returned to the automotive market, the gain has been in more practical segments, and purchases of convertibles and roadsters have lagged the general automotive market resurgence, says a new analysis by IHS Automotive.
According to the report, summarized by Katarzyna Kosior, the global convertible car market has peaked. Based on the latest forecast and analysis, the outlook for the global convertible car market will not return to record levels of 831,000 convertible sales experienced in 2004 during the next decade despite a raft of new model launches.
Additionally, the analysis concludes that after several years of leadership, mass-market brands offering convertible options relinquished their standing to premium brands offering new drop-top models. On a global scale, premium brands have a 55.5% market share compared to 33.1% for mass-market brands.
China’s exponential growth of the auto industry in the past decade has influenced the stagnation of the global convertible vehicle market, though not intentionally. While there is no real culture of Chinese consumers opting for convertible passenger cars, the volumes of traditional vehicles sold in China has outpaced the overall market, influencing the overall market share dynamic between traditional options and convertible body styles, says the report.
According to IHS sales analysis and forecast sales volumes, China represents just a small percentage of the combined global convertible market with just under 24,000 units sold at its peak in 2012. The forecast expects this to continue until 2025 with just 1.2% growth in convertible sales in the next decade in China.
Tim Urquhart, principal analyst at IHS Automotive, says “… the cultural influence is not the only factor in the adoption of convertibles in China… high pollution levels in major cities also pose a challenge… (and) the concentration of the middle-class buyers with the financial means to afford convertibles are in these congested cities… “
The European market is one of the key remaining flourishing markets for convertibles, according to the report. Though, In Europe, the convertible market fell by almost 58% between 2004 and 2014, and now represents just one percent of the market. From a regional perspective, Germany and the United Kingdom dominate the market in terms of convertible sales with 74% of the combined regional market. This is largely because of the large number of German convertible models that are sold into the domestic market and the affection that UK car buyers have for two-seater roadsters.
Urquhart said, “… the market in Europe will recover slightly… (with) certain key new model launches… like the BMW 2-Series convertible and the fifth-generation Mazda MX5 set to bolster the market… “
North America has always led the global convertible market, but hit a near-record low in 2014 with just 164,000 units sold in the region, says the report. While consumers have returned to the automotive market, the gain has been in more practical segments, and purchases of convertibles and roadsters have lagged the general automotive market resurgence.
By 2014, premium brands once again took over. Last year, premium brands represented a much larger share of a much smaller market with 55.5% share compared to the mass-market brand's share of 33.1%. Overall, convertibles represented less than 1% of global market in 2014.
Urquhart concludes, noting that “… we expect to see the premium brands continue to grow within the convertible market… mass-market OEMs that were not as successful with convertibles in previous years… (will) concentrate their resources toward popular and, in some cases, more practical, SUVs and crossovers… ”
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