By on January 11, 2011

Double-digit sales declines in the U.S. in the past two years notwithstanding, Toyota’s  Gen  X & Y Scion brand is in “no danger” of being put out of its misery, and new products are in the pipeline, Toyota Prez Akio Toyoda told The Nikkei [sub].

Toyoda confirmed that the subcompact iQ, recently reviewed by TTAC in Tokyo, will be coming early this year to the U.S., as a Scion.

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28 Comments on “Scion Too Young To Die...”


  • avatar
    quiksilver180

    New products are (or may be) good… but what about the current atrocities? One step forward, two steps back?

  • avatar
    HoldenSSVSE

    Suzuki introduced some great new products too; no one lined up to buy them.
     
    Toyota may want to keep the brand alive; but it is every bit of a zombie at this stage of the game.  It’s darn close to failed in the same vein as Merkur or Geo.  Toyota can’t pull the plug right now because it’s just more fuel on the Toyota has problems fire.
     
    Those Japanese built on the strong Yen and sold on the weak US dollar econoboxes can’t be doing anything to help the bottom line.

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    I really have to think that the same products would be better off as Toyotas. Honda and Kia and Nissan don’t need “cool” sub brands to sell their quirky or youth oriented cars, and that helps keep away the “for old people” stigma that Toyota is now saddled with. Nobody wants to pimp their Yaris or Corolla.

  • avatar
    IGB

    This should sell at least as well as a Smart. Did they call Penske for advice?

  • avatar
    Sundowner

    I always felt the Scion brand would be perfect for a little Subi BRAT style pick-up

  • avatar
    colin42

    Too Young To Die – Still one of my favourite Jamiroquai songs

  • avatar
    jaje

    Toyota has a much more established client base than Suzuki or Smart.  These cars would make great cars for city dwellers who occasionally need to drive.

    • 0 avatar
      geozinger

      @jaje: ” These cars would make great cars for city dwellers who occasionally need to drive.”
       
      I would agree to this statement only if the city these dwelllers are in don’t have Zipcar or some other car sharing service. Even my kids don’t care to own cars themselves, they’d rather borrow one of ours.
       
      I think there’s a diminished amount of returns on these cars, at least in the US. I believe that most folks will see this as a response to Smart car, with it’s limited appeal. Even though it can fit four, I think the general perception is that it won’t be as useful as other rather small but more conventionally shaped cars. Time will tell. Scion may be too young to die, but the selling proposition is based on being quirky and unique, and with other equally well priced and functional cars offered by other makers, that may not be enough.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      In principal I agree but here is the thing.  If I lived in Manhattan, Philadelphia, Boston, or the heart of San Francisco, or expand that reach to global cities like Moscow, London, or Paris, I wouldn’t own a car.  I’m a hardcore enthusiast.  I love to drive.  I burn huge gallons of dino bones for no other reason than my adoration of horsepower and a great platform to convert that power into forward motion.  If I wouldn’t own a car at all given my other options in the urban core, the average appliance driver sure wouldn’t.  If I for some reason HAD to have a car in those place, it sure wouldn’t be a new one, even if it was an econobox to begin with.

      There is very little ROI on these cars and there just isn’t a general market.  Ask Ford how the Fiesta is selling – and Ford the last I checked has quite the following, and a sterling reputation.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I like Scion when they bring JDM products across the Pacific as unchanged as possible. Case in point; the first-gen xB (bB) and the upcoming iQ. In a perfect world, they’d keep doing this, offering the quirky little cars that don’t fit Toyota USA’s image. Here are some other potentials:

    Toyota Porte (roomy city car with sliding door)
    Toyota Rush/Daihatsu Terios (micro SUV)
    Toyota bB/Daihatsu Materia (bring back the small one to slot under the small one)
    Daihatsu Copen (ridiculously small roadster)
    Toyota Prius c (this should be Scion’s first hybrid, not a Prius)

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The current xB is also a JDM vehicle, only it’s a bigger one this time around.
       
      But I agree that Scion would have done better as a clearinghouse for smaller, more esoteric JDM vehicles.  The current xB was kind of a compromise: it stepped up to fill the space formerly taken by the RAV/4 (which got a lot bigger).  It’s a pretty good vehicle, but Scion would have done well to have kept a smaller box as well.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Scion is not too young to die.  They can’t possibly be carrying their own weight as a division.
     
    Too bad my gen 1 xB will likely be replaced someday with a non-Scion product; they just don’t offer anything interesting to me anymore.

  • avatar
    obbop

    What would Studebaker do?
    Never owned or drove a LaSalle.
    Did they really run great?
    Pondering at the macro-level if the masses commenced acquiring small autos and average mpg rose then maybe rose some more….. and the room within traffic lanes grew, and parking spots became relatively larger would the USA become, relativistically, “larger”?
     
    Perhaps less stress. More parking or at the least “easier” parking.
    More room within lanes while driving. More “wiggle room.”
    But reduced fuel consumption…… would need for funds to maintain driving infrastructures lead to higher fuel taxes thus marginalzing consumer savings?
    Yet, lighter weight of vehicles may reduce wear and tear upon pavement, reducing amount of maintenance/repair required?
     
    A horde of variables crying out for mathematical equations to arrive at possible end results.
    Logarithms required?
    Math beyond “business math” level just bounces around my hampered brain leaving me befuddled and often confused.
    “New Math,” anyone?
    A failed experiment for a cohort of Baby Boomers?
    Or a personal failure?
    A right/left brain dichotomy?
    If given the option I would have opted for math expertise but it was not meant to be.
    Still, at an instinctual gut-level “feeeeeeeelings” level it seems to shanty-dwelling me that, on the whole, at a society-wide level, if the human horde within the USA devolved to the itty-bitty carlet “level” that the positives may outweigh potential negatives.
    Well, except for those needing a vehicle as an abode but perhaps a manufacturer could create, produce and offer a longer livable innable vehicle made lithe and lean using lightweight components and as fuel efficient as possible for what I, the shanty-bound one, predict will be a growing future trend…. vehicle dwelling.
    With that, I take another sip of coffee and sigh a sigh of relief I am not vehicle dwelling at this point due to the snow and cold and wind-chill factor outside the shanty walls.
    I hope the mice and bugs in the walls and crawl space below the floor appreciate the environment humans have wrought.
    Yo.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    The iQ stands a reasonable chance.  It has the Smart’s packaging and appeal, but unlike the Smart, you can transport more than two people at time—which was what relegated the Smart to “toy” territory.
     
    If the car has decent head and legroom, I’m going for it.   It’s rare that I carry both people and stuff, but I one or the other fairly often.  I’d hoped Honda would offer a four-seat CR-Z, but this is probably a better choice.  Hopefully the price is reasonable.

  • avatar
    ponchoman49

    Well GM made the same mistake with Saturn and look where that got them. Time will tell.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Funny you mentioned Saturn, because as I was reading the article I kept thinking about the parallels between Scion and Saturn:

      • Both seemed positioned against competitors that appealed to a younger buyer (Saturn for Japanese imports, Scion for Korean imports)
      • Both required dealerships to distance the new marque from the parent, with mixed results
      • Both offered models that were fairly standard from the factory, but offered a great deal of customization at the dealer level
      • Both embraced a one-price, no negotiation strategy
      • Both started with a somewhat limited number of models
      • Both had an initial lineup that was deemed underpowered by the motoring press, but were fairly well regarded for being reliable
      • Both tended to let certain models overstay their welcome
      • Both released “improved” models that seemed to be missing the appeal of the original ones

      One major difference is that Scion simply imported U.S.-certified versions of JDM models, while Saturn used a “clean sheet of paper approach,” at least in the beginning.

      I agree with others; the additional nameplate does nothing to help relieve Toyota of its stodgy image, whether perceived or real.

      Oh, and put me down for a Daihatsu Copen. The thing may be a deathtrap and cramped for my 6’2″ (188 cm) frame, but it would be a blast for my short commute…a viable alternative to a motorcycle.

  • avatar
    mjz

    Toyota should make Prius a brand, and dump Scion.

    • 0 avatar
      HoldenSSVSE

      Toyota should dump Scion and go with two brands, Lexus and Toyota – it is all they need.  They need to work on the stodgy image of Toyota with more youthful products and advertising (ya I know who buys an Avalon but whomever signed off that US ad campaign should be thrown from a very tall building).  They need to shore up Lexus IMAGE, which in survey after survey (reference the TTAC Story on Brand Strength from CR Survey) Lexus is becoming viewed as not a leader in thier niche.  Ya, they are still number one in sales in their segment, barely, but you know, General Motors was worried about being broken up in anti-trust in the 1970s with marketshare tickling 60%.

      Additional brands require additional SG&A from an accounting stand point and is a huge suck on the bottomline.  Scion products are JDM and built using the Yen (strong) and sold using the dollar (weak) and being an entry level value line there is no way to raise the price to increase margin.  As far as making it up in volume, ask Chrysler how that worked for them.  ;-)

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Of course they’d said the brand’s in no danger of being discontinued. Didn’t they all said that? Mercury, Pontiac, Plymouth, Studebaker, Desoto, you name it. Not until the date on which the brand will come to an end has been decided would they actually announce the brand’s death. To do so would only lead to acres of unsold cars, no?
     
    Though in the case of Toyota and Scion, I believe what they said. They had enough money to keep the experiment going, and give it a chance to succeed.

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      @MrWhopee; Yes, the lying bastards.  (Says a man who was a fan of all the brands put to death during his lifetime [1977 to present].  I’m also a fan of Studebaker and DeSoto, but in the “frequent car show attendee” sense.)

  • avatar
    rfahey

    The original XB was kooky and yet practical for the right people.
     
    This IQ fits the same description. I say it will work.

  • avatar
    JoelW

    Second time I’ve seen a statement in a TTAC piece that the Scion brand is aimed at Gen X. Really? Toyota is aiming Scions at the 30-45 year old set? I think not. Gen Y definitely but not Gen X. If you fact check and find otherwise I’d like to know, but I believe I am 100% correct on this one.

    Yes, somewhat of a minor nit… but I would hold any website that has the word “Truth” in its name to a pretty high standard.

  • avatar
    Zombo

    The big difference between Scion and other spin off brands is that they are sold at Toyota dealers and not at separate dealers like Lexus, Acura, Infiniti , etc . So if Toyota ever did decide to do away with the brand any models in the lineup they wanted to keep could easily be re-badged as Toyotas . And except for the tC I see more baby boomers driving Scions than any other age demographic . Not like Toyota planned it , but that’s the way it is in my neck of the woods .

  • avatar
    Tosh

    Scion stays until the next round of marketing hot-shots revolutionizes the car-peddling biz (again).
    I would have to hold my nose to investigate a Scion, but as long as I still felt it was actually a Toyota underneath, I would probably go ahead and at least finish the test drive. But I would need to overcome the feeling that Toyota is wasting time and money trying to sell an economy car to impressionable youth.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    This is an ‘economy’ halo car… a la the Lexus CT200h.
    Sales numbers for the Lexus will likely be in the 10k to 15k range. This one… perhaps 20k.
    If more folks continue to associate the Toyota brands with fresh styling and high MPG’s, it’s a win for company. Even if the Spark & Sonic beat the IQ in the sales race, the profits for other Lexus brands and Toyota compacts in general will far eclipse that.
     
     

  • avatar
    chrisgreencar

    Scion too young to die? Um, Edsel was launched for 1958 and was dead by 1960. Of course, Scion has been just a tad more successful.

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