November 2014 Scion Sales Hit 34-Month Low, 18 Consecutive Months Of Decline

Timothy Cain
by Timothy Cain

For the 18th consecutive month, the Scion brand’s U.S. volume declined in November 2014. The streak has reached a special low point, however, with the worst percentage decline since June and the lowest sales total since January 2012, when the iQ had only just arrived and the FR-S wasn’t yet on sale.

We’re long past expecting Scion to be capable of selling 14,400 cars a month as they did when the brand peaked in 2006. In 2012, Scion sold an average 6125 cars per month, an average which climbed to nearly 6700 monthly sales in the final seven months of that year.

But with just 3907 November 2014 sales, a 21.4% drop compared with November 2013 and a 30.3% decline compared with November 2012, the brand’s 18-month streak has tumbled to new lows.

Only in June of this year, when Scion sales slid 27.3%, or 1728 units, has the monthly decline been more drastic. As in June, the Scion brand’s November decline was sharper than any other automaker’s. But for a number of November’s declining brands, recent history suggests that last month’s results aren’t in keeping with the overall trend.

Land Rover, for instance, was down 20.6%, yet Land Rover sales are up 3.3% this year. Smart volume plunged 15%, but Smart sales are actually up 12.7% this year. Infiniti volume was down 13.3%, but Infiniti volume is up 2% in 2014. Volvo was down 14.4%, but they’re hoping, somewhat reasonably, that the second-generation XC90 is the brand’s saviour in North America.

The XC90’s pedigree and potential are unquestionable: it’s a vehicle that in 2004 sold nearly 40,000 copies for a brand which currently needs nine months to achieve that total across all nameplates. At Scion, are we to believe that the iM is the car that will restore the brand’s fortunes?

Scion initially rocketed to impressive heights with very small, very space-efficient vehicles like the first xB, a 28-mpg car that was bizarrely replaced by the 24-mpg second-gen xB. They sold 61,306 of those first-gen xBs in 2006. Scion’s whole product range – FR-S, tC, iQ, and slowly dying xB and xD – won’t top the 60K mark in 2014.

To put that figure into perspective, consider some of the brands which currently outsell Scion in the United States – Infiniti, Lincoln, Mitsubishi – all of which were roundly outsold by Scion in 2006, when Scion’s lineup featured only three nameplates.

Aging products are a problem. Post-hype, sports cars like the FR-S rarely prove capable of maintaining the early sales levels, nor are they expected to. But setting aside the core attributes that first made the automaker a success is perhaps Scion’s most egregious sin.

There is new product on its way, but a significant Scion rebound still seems unlikely. Fans can hope that new products will lift Scion out of its current situation, a situation which hardly seems tenable in the long-term.

Scion was America’s 28th-best-selling auto brand in November 2014, behind Mini and Porsche. Scion was responsible for just 2.1% of all Toyota MoCo sales last month, making less of an impact than 13 of the company’s nameplates, from the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4 to the Lexus ES, Avalon, and Lexus IS.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Timothy Cain
Timothy Cain

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  • Occam Occam on Dec 05, 2014

    I thought about this, and the kneejerk Scion group-think really overlooks just how influential the cars have been. In 2003, the first xA's and xB's started arriving. Subcompacts existed before that, but were always penalty boxes - hand-cranked windows, power nothing, etc. The xA and xB arrived loaded to the gills, comparatively, and their popularity with 40+ year old buyers showed the automakers that small hatchbacks could sell well if they were well appointed. They weren't just throwaway cars for college kids selling pizzas. The first tC arrived in 2004, and became the top-selling model. Apparently putting a 160 hp grown-up engine in a small car coupe with a functional back seat was a hit, just as other makes were eliminating their small coupes. The fall in their sales seems mostly tied to their market becoming saturated and their offerings not evolving with it. If you wanted a small car in 2004 with lots of space inside, your choices were very limited. A small, inexpensive car with standard power-everything, stability control, ABS, iPod connectivity, and Toyota reputation for being bulletproof? Almost exclusively Scion. I see the appearance of the Fit, Soul, Versa, and their ilk as a direct result of Scion.

  • Occam Occam on Dec 05, 2014

    For fun with charts, here's the Miata MX-5 sales since 2005 compared to Scion overall sales. Scion always seems to sell about 10 times more cars overall than the Miata. •http://imgur.com/kzXQpKz

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