Scion's FR-S Took A Hit In 2014
The U.S. market, long in need of an affordable, compact, rear-wheel-drive sports car, allowed the hype to initially take hold. The Scion FR-S’s best ever month was its first full month of availability – June 2012 – when 2684 copies were sold.
But in the second-half of the FR-S’s first full year in the U.S., FR-S volume slid 4%.
• FR-S accounts for 24% of U.S. Scion sales
• Scion accounts for 2.4% of Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. volume
• Subaru sold 25,492 WRX/STi Imprezas in 2014
The numbers weren’t terribly low. 18,327 FR-Ss were sold in the U.S. in 2013. But they weren’t terribly high, either. Nissan, for a reference point, sold 36,728 350Zs in 2003.
Regardless, only 18 months into the car’s tenure, monthly declines became notable because of their severity and consistency.
In December 2013, FR-S volume slid 31%. This year, from beginning to end, FR-S sales slid 36% in January, 30% in February, and 20% in March before falling 11%, 14%, 38%, 27%, 25%, 25%, 10%, 28%, and then plunging 19% to the car’s lowest full-month total of just 834 units in December 2014.
In the 2014 calendar year, FR-S volume slid 23% to 14,062 units, a year-over-year loss equal to 4265 fewer sales. The lower-volume Subaru BRZ fell 13% to 7504.
The demand for the newest, flashiest, fastest thing has historically limited the long-term appeal of coupes. But coupes and more genuine sports cars are not forced to sell less and less often as time goes on. The big Dodge Challenger muscle car posted its sixth consecutive year of growth in the U.S. in 2014. U.S. sales of the Chevrolet Camaro climbed to 86,297 units in 2014, the latest Camaro’s second-best year since returning in 2009. True, those cars compete in a different market, they represent true Americana, and their product ranges are broader and thus more appealing to a wider cross-section of the car-buying public. But shouldn’t that be to their credit, rather than used as an excuse for the FR-S and a wide variety of other sports cars which simply can’t appeal to a large number of consumers for more than a few months?
Even if you’re not a Toyobaru fan – and we all know certain individuals aren’t – we enthusiasts need cars like this to succeed for a longer period of time if we’re to see potential competitors in the future. Would General Motors seriously consider building the Code 130R after seeing the rate at which FR-S volume dries up? Will Nissan bosses follow through on building the IDx in the long-term after taking a look at the FR-S’s consistent decline? Can Kia commit to an affordable GT4 Stinger with FR-S volume falling to new lows?
The answer to all those questions could be, “Yes!”, if product planners determine that the FR-S’s steady decline relates to factors beyond the car’s core format. Might the FR-S’s downturn relate as much to its Scion branding as it does to the mostly useless rear seat? Could the FR-S be turning into a truly niche player because Toyota isn’t building a convertible? Are potential FR-S buyers turned off by the low-torque four-cylinder engine?
After all, new vehicle buyers in 2014 displayed their willingness to acquire new sporting cars without Scion badges, with useable rear seats, with torque, and with different bodystyles: Subaru’s own Impreza-based WRX/STi outsold the FR-S and BRZ combined.
Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.
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These are great, affordable cars in the style of the original Mazda RX-7. They fit like a glove, perform exceptionally well on the track and have enough horsepower for me. Most of the horsepower complainers are probably bench racers who wouldn't know what to do with a 707-hp Dodge Hellcat if they owned one. The FR-S and BRZ have ample power for everyday driving and for most driver events. With that said, there's a very lonely gray 2014 BRZ Limited that's been sitting on the lot of my Subaru dealer for many months. No matter what the dealership tries, no one is buying. The service manager says his customers are more interested in all-wheel drive and more practicality, both of which can be found in a WRX. If I had the garage space, I'd scoop up this little beauty in a heartbeat . . . and probably at a bargain.
I used to own a 1985 Toyota Celica/Supra. You know the one. MKII? Normally aspirated in-line 6 with about 160 or so horses and around 140 foot pounds… I loved it but I sold it when I needed a "family" car. That is a huge mistake. Then I see the Scion FRS (or BRZ whatever). It's a Toyota, like my 1985 was. It's very similar in presentation to the RWD 1985 Supra/Celica I used to have in my 20-30s. Toyota-ish. So I leased it, cause I wasn't sure, but I loved the test drive. 20 months later, it's basically like my 1985 Supra/Celica all over again. Only more power, much better and tighter handling, WAY better mph, similar good looks and if I buy the lease it did not cost a lot like so many me too overdone sports cars. It's simple and basic inside, no nonsense. The motor is not as pretty sounding as the inline 6 1985 but it has it's own character. Oh and the 1985 Supra did not have crap on it's steering wheel either. Hell it did not even have a air bag in the steering wheel. I remember some recent born human, something like 1990 or some $hit like that, saying I should of got the BRZ cause it has navigation. Wow what an idiot. My 1985 Supra/Celica did not have navigation. And if you need navigation in a BRZ/FRZ, then you are driving the wrong car…get a mini van. The point of a FRS/BRZ is to get lost and have fun and lose yourself in the experience. Then use your damn smart phone to find your way out. So I'm very happy with the FRS at 45 years old. I got my '85 back, only it's an "86" now. To each their own. I don't care what other people think about my Scion FRS. I'm happy and they're complaining. Who's winning that debate?