VIENNA, Austria -- Convertibles with folding hard tops are more popular than those with soft tops, says French coachbuilder Heuliez.
Last year retractable hardtop cars outsold soft-top cars globally for the first time, according to the supplier.
The company estimates that 300,000 folding hardtop cars were sold last year, compared with 280,000 softtop cars.
Heuliez CEO Gerard Queveau says sales of retractable hardtops soon could top 1 million units a year.
"I'm sure we have not yet seen the true explosion of retractable hardtops," Queveau said at the Automotive News Europe Congress here last month.
Heuliez has supplied the Peugeot 206CC, the first small-volume car with a retractable hard top, since the car launched in January 2001. To date, Heuliez has supplied 370,000 retractable roof systems for the 206CC.
Peugeot will build the roof system for the 206CC's successor, the 207CC, which is expected to go on sale in Europe by next summer.
Heuliez also builds the Opel/Vauxhall Tigra TwinTop two-seat, folding-hard-top roadster.
The French company is trying to sell automakers a retractable roof system for a four-seat convertible. The system was shown on the Peugeot 407-based Macarena concept unveiled at the Geneva auto show in March.
Queveau predicts high demand for four-seat folding hardtop convertibles. He added: "It adds an open roof to the comfort and the roominess of a sedan."
You may e-mail Luca Ciferri at [email protected]