By on October 5, 2015

2016 Scion iA

The FR-S did not turn out to be Scion’s savior. Doubts regarding the ability of a conventional hatchback and a subcompact sedan — the brand’s first sedan — to rescue a brand that was built on unconventional cars have been expressed in many corners.

Yet with the arrival of those two cars, the iA and iM, Scion was the fastest-growing car brand in America in September 2015 and the second-fastest-growing brand overall.

Only the 89-percent increase attributed to Land Rover, an SUV-only brand, was superior to Scion’s 57-percent leap forward in September 2015.

Both brands benefited from disappointing results one year ago, which created the chance for September 2015 to appear especially healthy. Both brands benefited from the overhaul of large chunks of their model range. Both brands benefited from being low-volume marques — an 89-percent year-over-year improvement at Ford, for example, would have required an additional 153,000 sales in September; only 2,749 were required at Land Rover.

Nevertheless, relative to Scion’s own historic performances, September 2015 was the best U.S. sales month for the Toyota sub-brand in more than two years, the first month with more than 6,000 sales in over a year, and the best September in three years.

All credit goes to the newcomers. Excluding the iA and iM from the equation results in a drop of 25 percent in September volume with declines reported across the board. Now the best-selling Scion in the United States in September was a model that was only released for sale in September, the iA, a sedan version of the new Mazda2 which won’t even be sold in the U.S.

In its first month on the market, Scion reported 2,035 iA sales, and one wouldn’t think to credit “pent-up demand” for a hot start of a subcompact sedan. Toyota Yaris sales slid 2 percent to only 586 units in September; the Prius C was up 5 percent to 3,367 U.S. sales.

Meanwhile, the second-best-selling Scion in September was the similarly fresh iM, which produced 1,353 sales in its first month on the market. The Toyota Auris-based iM could be thought of as a very indirect successor to the Toyota Matrix and Scion xB.

2016 Scion iM

Together, the iA and iM accounted for 52 percent of Scion’s September 2015 volume, a clear sign that the long-awaited Scion lineup overhaul took place very suddenly.

Scion was still selling a fair number of existing machines in September, at least by modern Scion standards. The xB isn’t dead yet. Sales of that model still totalled 1,117 units last month. The tC, the most popular Scion since 2011, was down 14 percent to 1,208. The FR-S, which attracted more than 1,000 U.S. owners in 27 of its first 30 months, has done so only four times this year. September sales slid 15 percent to 778 units, the second-lowest full month total for the FR-S in its nearly four-year history.

The iQ and xD are all but extinguished. Between the pair there were only 19 sales in September.

Yet even if the iA and iM can increase their totals to replace what will presumably be even more lost sales from the xB, FR-S, and tC, Scion will still only be selling half as many cars as they managed to sell in 2006. In other words, at September’s much improved sales pace, Scion would perhaps top 80,000 annual sales. That would be the highest U.S. Scion sales total in seven years, which only makes sense given the fact that the overall industry is generating more activity than at any point in the last seven years.

Even with new models being added to the fleet, even if they sell more often than any Scion has in the last half-decade or more, the greater issue facing Toyota’s sub-brand is its car-centric lineup.

Scion USA September 2015 sales chart

Yes, in September 2015, Americans actually bought and leased more new cars than in the same period one year earlier — but not many more. In a market which surged forward with a 16 percent year-over-year increase, passenger car volume was up just 6 percent as SUV/crossover sales jumped 31 percent.

With high value quotients, the iA and iM are likely to restore a measure of health to Scion’s U.S. sales situation. However, in order for Scion to approach the days of routinely selling more than 100,000 new vehicles per year as it did between 2005 and 2008, Toyota’s Frankfurt crossover debut, the C-HR Concept, must end up in America as a Scion. Nothing about the current state of affairs suggests that, for any brand, traditional passenger cars are the ticket to high-volume bliss.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures. Follow on Twitter @goodcarbadcar and on Facebook.

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57 Comments on “Scion Second-Fastest Growing Brand In September; New iA And iM Lead...”


  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Eeee! The littlest Angry Car!

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      So if I write a children’s book called “The Littlest Angry Car”, percentage wise, how much of the proceeds would you need?

      • 0 avatar
        RideHeight

        Just enough to keep me in English Breakfast tea… maybe $20/month?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Fair enough. Do people still read books to their kids? I know I do, but it seems most parents I know toss their kid a tablet instead of a book.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            I’m reading to my daughter in my avatar.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Good man. Well at least there are two of us. We have friends that put their kids to bed with a tablet. That horrifies me.

          • 0 avatar
            pdl2dmtl

            You’re not alone, we still read books to our daughter.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I feel better now. All hope is not lost.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            “We have friends that put their kids to bed with a tablet.”

            A tablet of what? Asprin? Codine?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            iPad and serotonin

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Two things a child shouldn’t be exposed too.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Maybe is they didn’t have the iPad in bed, they wouldn’t need the serotonin. Something, something, Kermit the Frog drinking tea meme.

            Edit: it’s melatonin not serotonin.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Serious though small children (<6) are being given mind warping drugs?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yeah, I edited it. It’s melatonin, not serotonin. So guess that’s better?

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Somewhat better but still not good. Please share this link with those people:

            http://empoweredsustenance.com/melatonin-is-bad-for-you/

          • 0 avatar
            87 Morgan

            I still do, my kids are 9&11 we have moved on to more intellectually engaging books. Currently we are half way through ‘the hunt for The red October ‘

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            87Morgan-

            I’m looking forward to that. My daughter turns three next month, and it is difficult to find more books (without spending a lot of money). Once I read the same books for a few days, I grow tired of them. It’ll be nice to read her books that are more than a one night affair. The closest things now is a large collection of Dr. Seuss books. My mouth gets tired after reading too. Especially Fox in Socks.

          • 0 avatar
            ClutchCarGo

            Dopamine and seratonin: technically, the only 2 things you like.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I don’t know what we’d do without our local public library, which has a terrific selection of books appropriate for kids of all ages. We have new board books to keep our 1-year-old entertained every couple of weeks thanks to them.

            He likes the iPad, but only gets about a minute a day to play with it.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Dal-

            As weird as it sounds I rarely check out books at the library. It’s in walking distance too. That has been woefully underutilized. We do buy books from the library once a month. 5 for $1. Since my daughter is 3, I’m worried that she’ll tear apart the new library owned books. Might as well give it a shot.

          • 0 avatar
            05lgt

            Just read to mine. It’s part of bedtime.

          • 0 avatar
            Drzhivago138

            Late to the discussion, but here goes: My mother is a librarian and both parents read to me and my sister at bedtime. I learned to read at 4 (it was Go Dog Go, which explains the automotive interest). Coincidence? Maybe.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “I’m a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner eager to empower others on their journey of holistic wellness.”

            When I get through an article and then read this credential, their writing loses a bit of effect for me. The NTP is a program from the NTI (Institution), and costs $7,329 + $75 registration fee.

            Ehhh.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          That’s a lot of Twinings.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        What would be the Littlest Angry Car?

    • 0 avatar
      Mullholland

      “The Littlest Angry Car” is a great alternate headline for this article. Though I would also nominate: “Fastest selling Scion is a Mazda.”

  • avatar
    tonycd

    “Fastest growing” is, here and by its general nature, a misleading statistic.

    That’s because it’s a stat based on comparing percentage growth. If you’re selling a lot already, even a significant boost may have only a small impact on your percentage. If you sold 100 cars last month and 175 this month, you grew an impressive-sounding 75%.

    I do root for Scion to succeed, though. I think the underlying idea has gotten more criticism than it deserved.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      I root for Toyota in general. Their cars may be boring and the target of anti-furriner hatred (all the way down to the unintended acceleration witch hunt) here in ‘Murica, but they represent what most people want in their cars: practical, comfortable, safe, no-nonsense, minimal maintenance expenses.

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    So Yaris volume plunged to 586 units in September when earlier in the year it was at over 2K per month.

    So is the iA cannibalizing the woeful Yaris sitting next to it on the showroom floor?

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      In September, the Yaris was down 2%, or 12 units, to 586. At this time last year Toyota was doing 1150 Yari sales per month. This year, through nine months, they’re at 1726 per month. YTD volume is up 50%. Impact of iA on Yaris won’t be known for a few months. Incidentally, the iA won’t be a Scion in Canada but rather the Yaris Sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        … Incidentally, the iA won’t be a Scion in Canada but rather the Yaris Sedan…

        And THIS is what makes the most sense.

        • 0 avatar
          wmba

          And this sorry remake of the new Mazda2 is as stated the new Yaris in Canada. Ugly as sin. Read a review here:

          http://www.autos.ca/first-drives/first-drive-2016-toyota-yaris-sedan/?all=1

          Readers comments center almost entirely on the hang-dog look.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Based on what I saw on the lot when I was getting my Rav serviced in the middle of the month, I’d say that these are still just filtering into dealers. Too early to tell if either will be a success. An iM with a slight lift and AWD would mirror Subaru’s XV success, IMO.

  • avatar

    Another ugly fish-faced car.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I was really excited for the iM to replace my 1st-gen xB. Then a couple things happened:

    a) In the early years, Scion offered “Pure Price”. The car sold for what it said on the sticker, period. Scion has apparently loosened up these rules, and now “Pure Price” means “you pay sticker PLUS whatever Tru-Kote and nitrogen-filled tires and whatever other crap the dealer wants to pack on.” The six-speed, at $19,200, looks like a fair buy next to its competition. At the $23k (+TTF) the dealer ADM sticker says… not such a bargain.

    b) Scion only appears to be shipping CVT models at this point. There isn’t a 6-speed car within 250 miles of here.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I’ve seen the 6MT in the flesh. It’s a beautiful car but I have a feeling the Golf is gonna eat its lunch because of the weak engine.

      • 0 avatar
        eggsalad

        Maybe. But after the respective warranty periods are over, the Scion will be just fine, while the VW is at the dealer every 3 months for $1,000. No thanks.

      • 0 avatar
        tjh8402

        @Kvndoom – the market will have to decide what matters more, but had the iM been available when I was in the market earlier this year, I would’ve given it serious consideration as is, in part because of its good fuel economy. I never considered the Xb or the TC because the mpg they get for being fwd 4 cylinder econoboxes is appalling. What really makes no sense (from what I understand, its the gearing) is how the much bigger Camry does better than both with the 2.5. Assuming the Xb and TC are indications of what a 2.5 iM would be like, I would’ve never given it any consideration.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          One I can answer for certain- the XB has the older 2.4L engine not the 2.5. And it has the ancient bulletproof 4AT or a 5MT as options… never got the newer engine or tranny. I could immediately see the need for a 6th gear in mine, because I’m in a comfortable spot of the torque band in 5th gear at 35-40 MPH already. Still being in 5th at highway speeds is wasting gas.

          As far as the TC, I’d bet it’s geared differently for acceleration instead of fuel economy numbers, which is what Camry buyers are shopping for. I’ll have to compare 0-60 times to be certain though.

        • 0 avatar
          kvndoom

          2009 Camry 5MT with 2.4L (last year with that engine) – 21/31 MPG

          2010 Camry 6MT with 2.5L 22/33 MPG
          2008-2015 xb with 2.4L – 22/28 MPG

          2009 Camry weighs 200 pounds more but a toaster isn’t very aerodynamic.

          2011 TC 2.5L 6MT – 7.6s 0-60

          2011 Camry 6MT >8s 0-60 (hard to find solid numbers, but everything I’ve found is higher than 8 seconds)

          • 0 avatar
            Russycle

            The xB’s slushbox is actually pretty nicely ratio’d, at 70 mph it’s loafing along well under 3K RPM. But you can’t cheat aerodynamics, the thing’s a box, and it’s pushing a lot of air compared to a Camry. No surprise the highway MPG is disappointing.

  • avatar
    Tomifobia

    Did Scion finally become a standalone marque, or is Toyota still combining its sales in with Toyota Division’s? Until that happens, Scions are really just Toyota models with separate advertising.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      As a consumer I don’t understand nor care much about this differentiation. The cars are still Toyotas, with the same performance, same features and same issues (or lack thereof) as other Toyotas. The lone exception is the tC which is unique to North America and not sold anywhere else.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    As Lutz would always say: “It’s the product, stupid”

  • avatar
    kvndoom

    When I bought my XB last month I looked at (but didn’t drive) the I’M. I could totally fall in love with that car if it had some damn power! Give it the 2.5 like the TC and it’d be damn near perfect with those 50 extra ponies.

    I hope Scion makes a special edition with the bigger engine. I would love a Japanese hatchback that isn’t a Mazda… yeah that’s kinda what the XB is, but I like the traditional looks of the IM.

  • avatar
    ant

    I saw my first iM in real life this morning. It was an unattractive light green color.

    I didn’t care for the styling, even thought I like hatchbacks, and don’t care for Toyota’s fish maw grill they’ve been grafting on everything (but this car) lately.

    I still don’t understand what the point of Scion is. Toyota is an excellent brand, it just hurts the cars to put Scion badging on. I also dislike the names. Hard to remember, or keep track of.

    • 0 avatar
      Chan

      You can tell Scion is just a place for Toyota to throw niche cars. The iM clearly implies a Matrix replacement in North America, despite the same car being sold as the Auris elsewhere. The tC recalls the Celica, because it’s Toyota’s only FWD sporty coupe. And the iA, as everyone knows, is a rebadged Mazda2 sedan.

      I agree, however, that nobody really cares for Scion. Selling the cars as Toyotas would make consumers much happier, although I can imagine Toyota possibly being concerned with harming its Corolla and Camry sales figures by diluting its showrooms with new model names.

  • avatar

    The iA looks hideous in photos, but is okay looking in person. That awful grille is more acceptable because you have a different perspective. Looking down at it in person, rather than directly at it from the ground level and it seems less prominent than in photos. It seems to be very well priced for all the features you get, actually. I would actually consider it now that I have seen it. Mazda would never have been able to sell that many in one month, so maybe it was smarter to market it through the Toyota/Scion dealer network after all.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Man, that iM sure looks like a Fit that’s had its utility removed.

  • avatar
    tekdemon

    It’s really too bad that they won’t refresh the xB with a less chunky looking body and a modern powertrain, but I think Toyota doesn’t really want it to cut into pricier models. If the xB was actually modernized it’d probably steal a few RAV4 sales.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I still haven’t seen either of these new Scion models on the road. They aren’t selling in SW Ohio, apparently.


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