During the ’90s, the retractable hard top became fashionable and its popularity has only spread since then. These retractable metal hardtops do a better job than traditional soft tops of insulating the cabin from extreme temperatures and road noise. As with everything, retractable hardtops don’t come without any drawbacks and the flaws that once seemed like a mild trade-off could become more glaring as convertible buyers’ priorities change in a post-2008 financial collapse world.
It costs more money to build a retractable hardtop than to outfit a convertible with a traditional ragtop. Automakers have to build stronger motors to power the heavier roof and then have to spend more money on research and development of the top and power mechanisms. It is hard to justify these added expenses and to benefit from economies of scale when these convertible vehicles sell in relatively small numbers. Buyers in a post-2008 financial crisis world are more prudent with their money and will start to move away from retractable hardtops and their added upfront price. Aston Martin and Bentley are still using ragtops so why should a Benz or BMW buyer not consider it?
Retractable hardtops weigh more than traditional softtops. The metal structure itself and the more powerful motors required to move that metal roof up and down carry a lot of weight. We live in an age when fuel efficiency is king and the strict CAFE fuel economy standards have automakers looking for ways to shave weight from their models. Every advantage an automaker can get in terms of fuel economy is crucial to survival these days.
More Trunk Space
Car buyers in a post-2008 landscape have become more mindful of practicality. Admittedly, a convertible isn’t the most utilitarian vehicle choice, but that does not mean you can’t seek to maximize its utility. Retractable hardtops consume more space than a traditional ragtop when the top goes down and this space is taken from the vehicle’s trunk space, making ragtops friendlier to those looking to stow a weekend bag or a set of golf clubs.
Auto designers shaping a car’s silhouette around a retractable hardtop face many challenges that don’t face designers tasked with designing a ragtop convertible. Due to the constraints of how a particular metal roof can fold and the given space it can fold into, cars with retractable hardtops often have an odd silhouette with the top up and they can also have oddly shaped rear ends. The flexibility of a ragtop allows designers’ true and unmolested visions to come to fruition.
Lower Maintenance Costs
All of the extra joints of a retractable hardtop and the extra stress it places on its motors mean that you are more likely to have creaks, rattles, and miscellaneous maintenance issues with these complex tops as opposed to the simpler ragtop convertible design. People are mindful of long-term ownership costs in a post-2008 world.
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