Autos

Scion Seeks Reinvention as the Lineup Continues to Age

ScionRange

For many young, first-time car buyers, choices for a long time involved used vehicles or cheap economy cars which don’t really instill the sort of excitement that many hope to achieve from their new vehicle. Toyota saw this issue and decided to address it by creating the Scion sub-brand, aimed mainly at young buyers looking for something simple, but also with a touch of personality.

The success of the Scion brand has had its ups and downs, but recently, with the exception of one or two cars, it’s fallen a bit behind the times as Toyota focuses most of its attention on its core brand in a heated competitive atmosphere. With the new Camry revealed and a new Prius in the wings, Toyota has now turned its attention back to its baby brand, and starting next year, Scion will have three more family members, according to Doug Murtha, vice president of Scion sales.

On the sidelines of the New York Auto Show, Murtha said that Scion’s lineup will remain at around five different vehicles, though he declined to mention which would be cut out.

“Beginning in November in Los Angeles, we’re going to show the first of three new products that will come to market within a 24-month period,” Bloomberg quoted Murtha as saying. “Beyond that, there are no real specifics on what’s going to sunset and what’s going to stick around.”

ScioniQ

Following the brand’s introduction in 2003, sales spiked rapidly and maxed out in 2006. Since then, numbers have been winding down, and deliveries of the xB, xD, the tC, and FR-S sport coupes fell to just 68,321 last year from the 173,034 peak. Increased competition around the industry and aging models are likely the root problems, Bloomberg noted.

The xB and xD are the two oldest models of the five, and in our opinion the likeliest to get either an overhaul or kicked off the roster. The Scion iQ, though popular in Europe and Asia (where it’s badged as a Toyota) hasn’t been met with great success here in the States, so it’s also logical that it eventually phases out, despite only being in the lineup since 2012.

The FR-S, however, has been performing well, Murtha said, adding that aftermarket enthusiasts have been clamoring all over the car, which was developed out of a joint venture with Subaru.

However, another joint venture agreement between Toyota and Mazda could produce a new compact car for Scion, but Murtha didn’t disclose. “That’s definitely a scenario. Obviously, something in that product category would be a candidate for us,” he said. Toyota will begin selling a compact car based on the Mazda2 next year.

He added that despite the sagging numbers, Toyota is still committed to the brand. “There’s been a little wait involved,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying. Still, the new products show “the company’s commitment to not be done with the experiment, to put some resources behind it and continue what we started 11 years ago.”