Back when Scion launched in 2003, young people weren’t buying Toyotas. Failing to capitalize on getting teens and 20-somethings into its cars, the company launched Scion to get shoppers into its cars that started around $13,000.
Today, Toyota is at a crossroads with what to do with Scion. Jim Lentz, the CEO of Toyota North America told Automotive News that the solution may be to stray from its roots and build Scion into a youth-oriented premium nameplate to do battle with Mini and the entry level offerings from the German makes.
Lentz did say that the idea ”is not a widely held view in the company,” however.
“Today it’s hard to find much value below $18,000 to $20,000,” Lentz said to Automotive News. “There’s going to be a big need in the $25,000 range for a fun-to-drive, nice-looking, value-oriented product.”
Enter: the 2013 Scion FR-S, which is internationally sold as the Toyota GT86. Lentz said that the convertible version will be pushing $30,000, but that can’t be sold as a Toyota, where such a price point makes sense, versus the coupe continuing on as a Scion. For Scion, the brand could return to its roots, despite popular thought that there’s no market down at the bottom anymore. It could keep staying the course it’s going, despite sales largely being propped up by just two models–the tC and FR-S–at this point. Or Scion could be folded back into Toyota, an experiment that seemed like a good idea during its heyday but dissolved as times changed.
The current Scion xB and xD have received little attention in the six years they’ve been on the market. They share components with other models sold abroad and rely on international product redesigns to keep up with changes. Scion sold nearly 175,000 cars annually at its peak in 2006 and dropped to a low point of around 45,000 in 2010 at the peak of the recession. Neither model’s future has been dictated yet.
Automotive.com’s take: Look at the success the Kia Soul has become for inspiration. While it starts at around $15,000, it can be optioned up to more than $25,000 with leather, a premium audio system, and all the luxury amenities young buyers want. Don’t lose a cheap starting point, but if Scion needs a reason for being, it should try to exercise extreme marketing ideas like Kia’s with radical advertising and a unique selling point that brings young buyer–especially those willing to splurge on options–back into showrooms.
Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)