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The future of convertibles is under threat

2016 Mini Convertible

Convertibles could soon be back on the endangered list.

After surviving a near-death experience in the 1990s because of safety concerns in the USA - particularly about rollover protection - they are now affected by falling global demand.

BMW Group says it is already assessing the ongoing demand for open-air models in its lineup, despite the global preview of its all-new Mini Convertible this month in California.

It is worried that some of the biggest growth markets, including China, are anti-convertible and this could impact on the profit potential of future models.

The concept of the convertible is in danger

"There is an issue with the convertible as a future member of the lineup," admits BMW spokesman, Andreas Lampka.

"Even though there are always fans for the convertible, it's not a guaranteed model variant."

He says the experience in the past could be repeated beyond 2020.

"The concept of the convertible is in danger. You have seen convertible soft tops nearly dying in the 1990s.

"One (concern) is the safety questions and the other is the growth in countries where you don't drive with your top down.

"The Middle East has never been a convertible market. China is not a convertible market, Russia is not a convertible market."

But he can laugh about the booming sales for droptops in the UK, where the percentage of convertibles is the highest in the world.

"They have the shittiest weather and the highest percentage of convertibles on the road," Lampka jokes.