Toyota Tackles Sagging Scion Sales

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

Scion sales finished 2007 24.8 percent below 2006. Last month, the once and future Gen Y brand dipped 12.6 percent. According to Brandweek, Toyota's sending three-person teams (including two "muscle men") into "hipster neighborhoods" in ten U.S. cities to promote the Scion xB RS 5.0. As the car only comes in Gold Rush Mica, they'll be making the scene in campaign-branded armored cars, handing out Scion-branded skullcaps in boxes made to look like gold bars, with cards that have the URL for a Scion microsite (and the pass code to access it). Whether this unorthodox approach will improve sales is anyone's guess. Meanwhile, analysts reckon Scion's facing external competition from the Fit and MINI, and internal threat from the Toyota Yaris. Looking a bit closer at Scion's overall sales figures, it seems Scion's promoting the wrong model. Even though the xB's sales were off last year, they appear to be recovering this year with a 17.2 percent jump in January. The tC, however, was down 19.3 percent last year, down a further 33.2 percent below last January's totals. Perhaps Scion should pay some real muscle men to prowl cubicles and offer secretaries shoulder rubs and a link to a tC-intensive webpage.

Frank Williams
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  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Feb 20, 2008

    franz, it don't.... no-haggle pricing has the contra effect of turning off those who want to negotiate and gives the competition the opportunity to underprice their wares from the get go. Scion needs to ACTUALLY HAVE SOME SPORT in their line-up. I'm no talking about just the Tc which actually has been a very successful vehicle. The current Xa and Xd simply do not exude even an ounce of sportiness. They're not fun to drive and as long as that's the case, Scions sales will suffer.

  • Chaser Chaser on Feb 20, 2008

    franz> That was one of the major reasons I bought my Scion. I'm technically Gen X, for whatever that's worth, but I still have no interest in haggling over a car. I live in a rural area and there aren't many dealerships anyway. It was an hour's drive to the nearest Toyota lot and I certainly didn't want to waste the gas and time to visit several dealerships. Besides, I'm not going to save a whole lot haggling on a hot seller that doesn't cost much to start with. I can see how fixed pricing is a bad idea for a $50k vehicle, but in the sub-$20k range I'm all for it.

  • Franz Franz on Feb 20, 2008

    Steven Lang, I guess you don't "get it", and that's OK. Many folks have gotten so used to doing it that way, as dirty and distasteful as it may be for some to degrade themselves in the humiliating (dog-like?) experience of submission to the dealer. But I argue that there is a definite demographic of youthful buyers that did NOT grow up appreciating the art of patient negotiation (haha!). Rather, these folks crave instant gratification, no hassles or obstacles, and a quick no-fuss transaction...whether they're buying a car, a cell phone, or a meal. You seem to remain hung up on Scion being all about the cars...yes, the cars play a role. But the ability to achieve the purchase in the manner I described above will outweigh MANY of the drawbacks of the vehicles being sold. There is simply no where else to turn if you crave Scion's style of shopping experience. THE DEALERS ARE NOT EMPOWERED TO CREATE SUCH ENVIRONMENTS! Only the manufacturers can do this, and Toyota is the only one working hard on it with their Scion brand. I'd say that Toyota is creating an environment where you don't have to puff yourself up and be assertive, forceful, or savvy in order not to get ripped a new orifice. Instead, they are treating you like an individual, worthy of the same sales treatment and pricing as any other individual. I wish other automakers would wake up and try this too.

  • Ricky Spanish Ricky Spanish on Feb 21, 2008

    Scion screwed up when they made the xB bigger and more powerful - its physically larger yet gets worse fuel economy AND has less cargo space. The old model was toaster shaped chic, and since it was small and light (600 lbs lighter), it was actually fun to drive, fuel efficient, yet still space efficient. Tuners (Scion's lifeblood) have walked away from the brand since they ruined the old xB and moved on to other quirky little cars like the Fit. Meanwhile the tC will NEVER replace the Celica - that thing has a damned Camry motor in it - the Celica had a frickin Yamaha built inline four that revved to 8400 rpm and made 100 hp per liter - and is currently in use by the Lotus Elise.