Scion's Upmarket Expansion Gives Hope For FR-S Spinoffs

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
scion s upmarket expansion gives hope for fr s spinoffs

A couple weeks back, Tetsuya Tada, father of the Scion FR-S, wistfully meditated on his desire to see more variants of the Scion FR-S, including a shooting brake. Rather than dismissive them as fantasy-bait for the enthusiast set, TTAC determined that there is probably a good business case for developing more variants of the Toyobaru platform. After all, you can’t spend billions on an all new platform and only build one low volume niche model off of it, right?

For anyone rooting for this scenario, there’s more encouraging news. Toyota executives are pondering an upward expansion of the Scion brand, and the FR-S could be the focal point of that initiative.

Automotive News is reporting that a group of executives at Toyota’s American arm are looking into the possibility of taking Scion upmarket. With the bottom end of the car market creeping upwards and German brands like Mercedes-Benz and Audi just nudging the $30,000 floor with products like the CLA and A3, there is a potential opening for Scion to slot a new product in the $25,000-$30,000 price bracket, just slightly above the current FR-S. Ironically, while Mercedes and Audi are opting for front-drive platforms, a potential Scion competitor using the FR-S platform would be rear-drive, and all the enthusiast cachet that goes with it.

Aside from the FR-S and the front-drive tC sports coupe, Scion’s product lineup is rather stale; aside from the qurky iQ, the xB and xD subcompacts are 6 years old, despite Scion’s promise of quick product turnaround times. When Scion first launched in 2002, entry-level cars could be had for around $13,000. Nowadays, a subcompact car can easily nudge $20,000. Toyota is also due to launch the next generation Corolla, which will feature more aggressive styling and be positioned at Generation Y customers.

While Toyota USA may be undecided on what to do with Scion, this development seems to shore up the notion that variants of the Toyobaru are on their way, in one form or another. Whether the United States will get them is one matter, but it would be difficult to think that a company as savvy as Toyota would go through all the effort and expense of developing a new vehicle platform without maximizing economies of scale. In the current marketplace of modular architectures and razor thin profit margins, it would be foolish for Toyota not to do so. In addition, it would be the rarest of events in the automotive world, one where the interests of both the bean counters and car guys have aligned.

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  • Power6 Power6 on Apr 03, 2013

    A sedan version of the FR-S would excite the enthusiasts Now a diesel boxer wagon variant in brown...well lets not go there...

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