Some people cannot wait for Volkswagen AG to start selling New Beetle convertibles.
So converters, such as R. Straman Co. of Newport Beach, Calif., are racing in to meet demand.
But Straman and other converters are complaining that VW is trying to stifle their sales by telling U.S. dealers that it may not pay for warranty work on New Beetle convertibles.
'They don't want thunder stolen from their market,' said Richard Straman, president of R. Straman Co.
VW maintains it is being careful because of potential liability.
'When you look at it from an engineering point of view, nearly everything on the car might be affected,' said VW spokesman Tony Fouladpour.
Added weight, caused by up to 300 pounds of chassis braces added by converters, could affect performance, braking and handling. VW approves warranty work on altered cars on a case-by-case basis, Fouladpour said.
VW presumes a lack of engineering knowledge that should not be applied to all aftermarket providers, said Ellen McKoy, director of marketing for the Specialty Equipment Market Association. The group's annual convention last fall had more customized variations of the New Beetle than of any other car.