BMW says SUVs killed the sports car marketThu, 13 Nov 2014
In many ways, we're living in a golden age of automotive performance. After all, it's possible to show up at a Dodge dealer, hand over about $60,000 and storm away with a 707-horsepower Challenger Hellcat. Or for those who prefer a touch more luxury, the BMW M4, Mercedes-AMG C63 and latest Cadillac ATS-V offer between 425 and 503 horsepower, depending on your pick, with a bit more poshness. However, none of these powerful vehicles fit the classic definition of a two-place, droptop sports car, and according BMW head of sales Ian Robertson, that's because the segment is very much in the doldrums.
According to Robertson, two factors seriously wounded the classic sports car market. First, the global economic crisis of a few years ago put a serious hurt on sales, according to Bloomberg. Further worsening the situation, the boom in popularity of luxury SUVs and crossovers in the past few years hasn't allowed for much recovery. Even car-hungry China hasn't helped much because of the smog in many cities and preference among some of the very rich there to be chauffeured.
Combined, Audi TT, BMW Z4 and Mercedes-Benz SLK sales peaked around 114,000 units a year in 2007, but they are only expected to reach 72,000 annually by the end of the decade. Robertson is pretty pessimistic about the market's comeback too. "Post-2008, it just collapsed. I'm not so sure it'll ever fully recover," he said to Bloomberg.
Despite the downturn, there's no reason to start eulogizing the sports car. The ones that are available or are coming make for some fantastic offerings. They range from the V8 power of the Chevy Corvette to the more lithe styling of the upcoming 2016 Mazda MX-5 Miata. Plus, a new Audi TT droptop is on the way. There's no reason to write the segment off yet.
By Chris Bruce
See also: 2015 Audi A3 TDI Challenge, MotorWeek revisits Audi's iconic Quattro, Six 'shut up and take my money' cars.