Quick Hits: The Frugal and the Frivolous
Brief scrutiny of today's headlines
The expendable nature of the convertible makes it especially vulnerable when the economy declines. Unlike gas-guzzling pickup trucks and SUV's, which either have more cargo space or extra seats, going topless fills no practical consumer need.
According to MSNBC, in 2007 convertible registrations were down 8.9%, compared to an industrywide decline of 2.5%, with automakers Ford (F) and General Motors (GM) feeling the brunt of the losses. These tell-tale figures could be much higher this year.
But there's an exception to this rule. According to Motor Trend magazine, sales for the newly remodeled Chrysler Sebring convertible are up 800% from one year ago. The vehicle's success is attributed to a new hard top that can be automatically deployed and retracted.
Hard tops used to be fingered for taking the fun out of convertibles by making them more practical, but the meteoric rise in Sebring sales proves that, at least for today, practical is king. Even luxury carmaker Porsche, not exactly known for fuel efficiency, is considering hybrid versions of its iconic fleet of sports cars.
The times they are a-changin' for American consumer culture - one mile at a time.
For more on autos, check out Hoofy & Boo's always astute report:
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