TO THE EDITOR:
It was gratifying to see Bob Marcks' enthusiasm in his letter "True luxury means a convertible" (Dec. 23), where he states, "the price of admission in the true luxury segment is a mandatory convertible." As the leading manufacturer of soft-top convertible material to automakers and Tier 1 suppliers across the globe, and as unabashed convertible aficionados, we couldn't agree more.
Convertibles offer a very special driving experience, as well as wide design options with various top textures, colors and patterns. Convertibles have always been a prestigious but cyclical segment of the automotive market. The current disenchantment with sedans certainly suppresses the prospects for derivative convertibles of traditional design, not to mention the huge development cost pressure on automakers to embrace electric drivetrains and advance vehicle autonomy. This is a hard development environment for limited-production cars, even halo models.
One encouraging market trend is a shift toward open-air options for SUVs, with new product introductions from Jeep, Volkswagen and Land Rover and more products from other OEMs in the pipeline. Vehicle functionality, year-round driving potential and easy open/close operation of a folding fabric roof is a dynamic combination for SUVs that has broad appeal across the consumer marketplace. This may be a shift from a traditional "luxury" positioning of cabriolets and roadsters, but the market segment is certainly not in the economy realm.
Setting aside an obvious professional interest in convertibles, we are open-air driving enthusiasts who hope the market supports continued choices for this more exhilarating driving experience.
ERIC HAARTZ, CEO, Haartz Corp., Acton, Mass.