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Dealers see improved demand for ragtops

November 24, 2010

Through the first four months of this year, sales of convertibles are up 28 percent compared with the same period a year ago, according to industry sales figures. Convertibles have become a bright spot for car dealers who have seen passenger car sales trail SUV sales in recent years. It's the economy, according to Art Spinella, of CNW Marketing Research in Bandon, Ore. "Whenever the economy gets better, sales of convertibles gets better because it's a toy, an extravagance," Spinella said.

The Ford Mustang convertible is the best selling ragtop among a small field of contenders. Ford convertibles- Mustang and the redesigned Thunderbird-control 17.5 percent of the market. Chrysler sold 5 percent more Sebring convertibles in the January- April period than it did during the first four months of 2001. General Motors so far is the lone the exception, experiencing a sales drop of 700 convertibles, or about 6.9 percent, so far this year. For dealers, the improved demand for convertibles translates to lower floor plan costs and higher gross profits. J.D. Power and Associates has found that convertibles spend much less time on dealers' lots before they're sold.

A Mustang coupe stays in stock an average of 44 days, while it takes just 38 days to sell the convertible. The days-to-turn difference between the Chrysler Sebring coupe and convertible is even more dramatic: 117 days for the coupe, only 67 for the convertible, according to the J.D. Power report.