The Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet has been axed, despite having been updated for the 2016 model year this time last year.
The convertible market remains one of the less profitable markets across the car industry. Last year, Volkswagen dropped the Eos from sale in the UK, after having sold it here for nine years.
Ahead of the Eos being axed, Volkswagen America’s then boss Michael Horn revealed that the convertible market was dwindling. With Volkswagen’s reported cost-cutting measures in the wake of the emissions scandal, it’s likely that the Golf Cabriolet has been in executives’ sights for discontinuation for some time.
A Volkswagen spokesman said that the model was discontinued to make way for increased production of the new Tiguan at Volkswagen's Wolfsburg plant.
Despite the Golf’s success in the UK, the Golf Cabriolet sold just 1621 examples in 2015, making it one of the least common Volkswagen cars on UK roads. By August of this year, Volkswagen had shifted almost 44,000 Golf hatchbacks across 2016, making it the fourth most registered car in the UK. The only remaining convertible Volkswagen, the Beetle Cabriolet, sold 1284 units in 2015. This is what Volkswagen now recommends buyers wanting a four-seat convertible should choose.
Volkswagen isn't the only manufacturer losing faith in the drop-top market; Kia UK boss Paul Philpott recently revealed that there was no convertible model in sight for the South Korean brand because the market isn’t strong enough.
According to JATO Dynamics, even if the UK is along with Switzerland one of the markets where sporty cars are still popular, convertible registrations have posted a continuous annual decline since the year 2007 (with the exception of a 3% increase in 2012/2011). The 45,000 units registered in the UK in 2015 were the lowest result since 2002. Year-to-date data shows a 24% decline.
The Golf Cabrio and its rivals sold almost 8,900 units in 2015, up by 31% on 2014. However, the result was definitely lower than the 26,400 units sold in 2007.
Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO, said: "There is in fact a big decline on the convertible market in Europe and the UK. This is true in both segments, the C-Cabrio segment - where the VW Golf Cabriolet sits - and all kind of cabrios, from the small ones like the Smart Fortwo up to the luxury ones like the Bentley Continental or Ferrari)."
"Chinese lack of appetite for convertibles has forced many car makers to stop producing this kind of cars. Sport cars are expensive to produce as they require more safety and performance features. If the world’s largest car market does not show as much interest as other markets, then the demand will be more limited and production costs would grow."
A Volkswagen spokesman couldn't comment on whether the Golf Cabriolet would be brought back for the model's eighth generation.