By Drew Johnson
Thursday, Jun 11th, 2009 @ 3:53 pm
 
Toyot's Solara Convertible narrowly averted the production ax last summer, but the mid-size drop top won't be so lucky this convertible season. Thanks to a sharp market decline, Toyota has decided to cease production of the Solara Convertible.

Toyota halted production of the drop top last December after the U.S. car market collapsed, but had planned to restart the Solara Convertible line when demand picked up during the spring season. However, the convertible market has not shown any signs of improvement, forcing Toyota to completely cancel the Solara Convertible.

"I think there was some hope that eventually during the spring/summer months the market would bear a need," Toyota spokesman Rick Hesterberg told Wards Auto. "We kept the tooling, just waiting to see, but that never came to fruition."

Sales of the Solara Convertible have been on the decline since the new model was introduced in 2004 as a 2005 model. That first year Toyota sold 19,772 Solara Convertibles, but sales slipped to 18,198 units in 2007. Last year Toyota sold 16,163 units of the Solara Convertible. Overall convertible sales have slipped about 8 percent since 2004.

The Solara Convertible was among a dying breed of mid-size convertibles. The Chrysler Sebring Convertible remains as one of the few remaining examples, with General Motors killing off its G6 convertible for the 2010 model year.

Toyota's new Venza crossover has taken up some of the production slack left by the Solara's departure from the company's Georgetown, Kentucky plant.