Convertibles lose luster, but there's one for all budgets

Drop-tops now make up just a fraction of the U.S. car market, but shoppers on the coasts still aspire to buy a convertible, according to research.

While sales are small, convertibles can be a lucrative segment for automakers because buyers dreaming of the open air tend to pay a premium. Automakers offer a total of 30 convertible models, reflecting 11.2% of all vehicles on the showroom floor. Sales lag behind at just 0.8% of retail volume.

“When compared to a segment like minivans, which has just seven models available and double the sales market share of convertibles, it is obvious just how aspirational the convertible segment is,” said data analyst David Greene.

Mainstream and luxury brands offer convertibles across a wide range of prices. noted the difference between the $19,283 Fiat 500 Cabrio and the $190,875 Audi R8 Spyder. Convertible versions of the Ford (NYSE:F) Mustang and the Chevrolet Camaro, the most popular drop-top on, are available starting around $32,000.

The Mustang ranks as the sixth-most popular convertible in searches. Other than the Camaro, Mustang and Chevrolet Corvette, the website’s list of the top 10 convertibles is dominated by foreign brands:

2017 Chevrolet Camaro SS convertible FBN
  1. Chevrolet Camaro
  2. Mazda MX-5 Miata
  3. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  4. Jaguar F-TYPE
  5. Chevrolet Corvette
  6. Ford Mustang
  7. Porsche 911
  8. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
  9. BMW 4 Series
  10. Fiat 124 Spider

Convertibles are a rarity in most snowy states. Most buyers live in sunny locations and high-income markets, such as New Jersey:

  1. Florida
  2. Connecticut
  3. Maryland
  4. California
  5. New Jersey