Who will sell the first affordable hybrid convertible?

Mon, 07/23/2012 - 00:06

The keyword here is ‘affordable.’ High-end luxury automakers like Fisker, Porsche, and BMW can certainly bring beautiful hybrids to the market, but I’m talking about a hybrid convertible for the everyday man or woman.

Earlier this year, I was having brunch with longtime friends and, me being their go-to auto gal, the conversation jumped to cars. A couple in the group asked me why there weren’t any hybrid convertibles on the market. They loved their Prius, but they also loved the idea of saving fuel while letting the wind blow through their hair.

I have to say that I was stumped by this question. I hadn’t really given the subject much thought. The only response I could logically provide was that, by nature, a convertible cancels out the effectiveness of a hybrid drive train (think aerodynamics). I supposed that driving with the top down on the highway in a hybrid convertible would yield similar fuel economy to regular convertibles.


Fisker's Karma S is one of the few hybrid convertibles on the market today. (Image sourced from treehugger.com)

Thanks to rising Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards, car manufacturers in the U.S. are in a race to list the highest MPG numbers on as many models as possible. What could they really tout if their hybrid convertible yielded the same results as older generation compact convertibles?

But that doesn’t change the fact that there are people out there hoping and waiting for a hybrid they can have as an affordable primary or secondary vehicle.

I mean, some of the popularly petite convertibles like the Saturn Sky or Pontiac Solstice could have been turned into hybrid success stories. (At least GM’s Aztek R&D dollars would have been better spent there.) What about the Toyota MR-2 Spyder and Honda S200? These were also vehicles that garnered anywhere between 25 and 32 miles to the gallon nearly a decade ago.

Would the weight of a hybrid drivetrain and the drag of having the top down cancel out the increased fuel efficiency?

I’d love to hear your thoughts below.

Questions for thought…

  • What do you think about the future of hybrids?
  • Do you think a convertible would be a great option or should manufacturers go a different direction?
  • Would you buy a hybrid convertible?

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