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VW Eos output will end on declining cabrio demand

FRANKFURT — Volkswagen plans to stop making its Eos cabriolet in the middle of the year as customer tastes shift away from convertibles in general and retractable hardtops like the Eos in particular

in Automotive News Europe, by Christiaan Hetzner, 23-02-2015

“After nine years and roughly 230,000 units built, production of the Eos in Portugal will end in May/June,” a VW spokesman said on Monday, confirming a report in Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.

VW does not expect the Eos’s production end to affect the plant in Setubal, where roughly 3,500 employees also build the Scirocco coupe, Sharan large minivan and its sibling, the Seat Alhambra.

“We announced in June of last year that Volkswagen will be investing 677 million euros in the plant by 2018,” the spokesman said.

European sales of convertibles made by volume carmakers declined 20 percent to 65,737 last year, according to figures from JATO Dynamics. The Eos ranked ninth in the segment as sales dropped 14 percent to 3,197 units.

Opel’s Cascada folding softtop has also not lived up to the hopes pinned on it due to the shrinking demand for convertibles.

GM will rebadge the Cascada to export it to the U.S. in early 2016 as a Buick and to Australia this year as a Holden, in the hopes of better utilizing free capacity at its Opel’s factory in Gliwice, Poland, where the cabriolet is built.

By comparison, overall sales of premium convertibles including the the Porsche Boxster, BMW Z4 and Audi TT are maintaining their volume, with European sales inching 1 percent higher to 81,360 last year.

Earlier Automobilwoche cited internal documents as saying the Eos, which starts in Germany at 30,375 euros, would be discontinued in May, with the last orders from customers taken at the end of March.

“Customer preferences in the cabrio segment have changed in favor of softtops, so we will concentrate in the future on the Golf Cabriolet and Beetle Cabriolet,” VW’s product marketing and vehicle planning department wrote in a letter obtained by Automobilwoche.

The Beetle was Europe’s best-selling volume convertible last year with a volume of 13,286 and the Golf’s softtop variant ranked second (11,447).

The Eos debuted in May 2006 at a time when demand was high for affordable folding hardtops following the success of models such as the Peugeot 206CC, and 307CC.

Due to the longer dimensions of the Eos, the rooftop had to be split into five sections rather than three. This complex construction resulted in cases where leaks in the roof led to the buildup of mold in certain parts of the car.

VW is moving away from the cabriolet segment to prioritize SUVs. Last July, when the company announced plans to boost earnings at its core VW brand by 5 billion euros, CEO Martin Winterkorn told managers that priorities in product planning had to be shifted given the drop in demand for convertibles in general.

More recently the VW CEO told Germany’s Der Spiegel that the Eos would likely be discontinued, clarity seldom seen since any indication that a model will not be replaced often results in a swift drop in demand and harms resale values.

“Not every model will have a successor,” he told the weekly magazine last October. “Our Volkswagen Eos cabrio is seriously being reconsidered.”

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