Is the Toyota Yaris IA Getting a (Formerly Rejected) Sibling?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
is the toyota yaris ia getting a formerly rejected sibling

Three years ago, I stood in the Palais des congrès in Montreal as representatives from Mazda Canada introduced the next-generation Mazda 2, a model that never made it to either Canadian or American dealer lots. Well, not as a Mazda, anyway.

The 2015 Montreal International Auto Show debut of the KODO-ified little hatchback was hardly on the same level as, say, that of the next-gen Ram 1500 or Chevrolet Silverado or Ford Ranger we saw last week in Detroit. Still, the previous 2 endeared itself to buyers as a roomy, agile, and quirky little beast, and the redesigned model looked sharp. All good. Certainly, small cars weren’t nearly in as much danger from subcompact crossovers in 2015 as they are now.

So it was odd to see the model disappear from the future lineup on both sides of the border, only to return almost immediately as a Scion-badged sedan, the iA.

The one-car iA line, now sporting a Toyota badge, soldiers on alongside the existing three- and five-door Yaris — the Yaris that isn’t a Mazda — for the 2018 model year. But it’s in 2019 that things get confusing.

A VIN coding document sent to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration from Mazda for the 2019 model year shows two Mexican-built iAs for the U.S. market — a four-door sedan and a five-door hatchback. In Puerto Rico, like in Canada, the Mazda 2 (aka Demio)-based sedan is known simply as the Yaris Sedan, positioned next to the Toyota-developed Yaris Hatchback. Neither jurisdiction sees iA badging.

Obviously, this raises a number of questions. Is Toyota planning to swap the existing five-door for one with a Mazda pedigree? Will the 2 hatch actually appear in North America (or at least the U.S.) four years after its launch? Surely, Toyota doesn’t plan to offer both hatchbacks in a shrinking segment.

Sadly, VIN docs haven’t yet been sent to the NHTSA from Toyota, so we can’t peer into that automaker’s 2019 lineup just yet.

No automaker likes detailing future models, and Toyota’s no different. When contacted by TTAC, the company stayed mum on the possibility of a new model joining the stable, though Toyota Motor North America product communications specialist Nate Martinez did say in a late Friday email, “we can confirm there are no plans for the discontinuation of our current Yaris five-door.”

Confused yet? There’s a number of ways to interpret this statement, and we’ll update you as we glean more information. Certainly, it looks like the existing three-door Yaris is endangered. It’s also possible a Mazda-based hatch might appear only in a certain market, but that’s enough speculation for now.

The existing Yaris lineup performed well in the U.S. in 2017, though the same can’t be said for the non-iA hatchback. Yaris hatch sales sank 73.3 percent in December to just 203 vehicles, with year-to-date volume down 20.4 percent. The Yaris iA, however, enjoyed a 27.7 percent sales boost in 2017.

As the significantly higher-performing model in the lineup (35,727 sales versus the hatch’s 8,653), iA sales lifted the Yaris lineup to a 14.2 percent volume increase last year.

[Image: Toyota]

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2 of 46 comments
  • Ernest Ernest on Jan 21, 2018

    Relatively speaking, this segment is dead. 352,000 subcompacts sold in the US last year. The Versa and the Accent were over 50% of that volume- leaving everyone else to divide up what was left. Compare that number to the 2,000,000 compacts sold or the 1,800,000 mid-sizes sold.

  • Telpwnen Telpwnen on Jan 21, 2018

    They've already been selling the hatch as the 2 in the US for years, but only in Puerto Rico. How did you mention that this Yaris iA is the Yaris sedan in PR and not notice that they actually sell the Mazda 2 there already? That would explain the VINs and this entire article, and you're at least a year or two late.

  • Bobbysirhan The Pulitzer Center that collaborated with PBS in 'reporting' this story is behind the 1619 Project.
  • Bobbysirhan Engines are important.
  • Hunter Ah California. They've been praying for water for years, and now that it's here they don't know what to do with it.
  • FreedMike I think this illustrates a bit of Truth About PHEVs: it's hard to see where they "fit." On paper, they make sense because they're the "best of both worlds." Yes, if you commute 20-30 miles a day, you can generally make it on electric power only, and yes, if you're on a 500-mile road trip, you don't have to worry about range. But what percentage of buyers has a 20-mile commute, or takes 500-mile road trips? Meanwhile, PHEVs are more expensive than hybrids, and generally don't offer the performance of a BEV (though the RAV4 PHEV is a first class sleeper). Seems this propulsion type "works" for a fairly narrow slice of buyers, which explains why PHEV sales haven't been all that great. Speaking for my own situation only, assuming I had a place to plug in every night, and wanted something that ran on as little gas as possible, I'd just "go electric" - I'm a speed nut, and when it comes to going fast, EVs are awfully hard to beat. If I was into hypermiling, I'd just go with a hybrid. Of course, your situation might vary, and if a PHEV fits it, then by all means, buy one. But the market failure of PHEVs tells me they don't really fit a lot of buyers' situations. Perhaps that will change as charging infrastructure gets built out, but I just don't see a lot of growth in PHEVs.
  • Kwik_Shift Thank you for this. I always wanted get involved with racing, but nothing happening locally.