Yesterday, Toyota sales executive Paul Holdrige told Edmunds that the brand isn’t likely to offer new products for the next couple of years. “It’s going to be tough for [Scion] without an infusion of new or updated product – as it’s tough for any brand in what is perhaps the most competitive auto environment in history,” NADA Senior Market Intelligence Manager Larry Dixon wrote in an email.
Sales are down four percent year-to-date compared to eight percent growth for the overall market. Scion’s September sales dipped 24 percent, marking an especially poor month for the brand. Then again, September was tough for most automakers because the industry counted fewer selling days than it did last year. Still, things are looking grim at Scion.
Four of Scion’s five models are suffering from slowing sales. The only exception is the recently-introduced FR-S sports car, which now leads the brand’s other two best sellers: the tC coupe and xB hatchback. Toyota’s dealer network is saturated with attached Scion stores to the point that late last summer, Toyota gave its dealers the OK to abandon selling the brand without penalty. The majority of Toyota’s 1,225 U.S. dealers offer Scion cars to their customers despite poor take rates.
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The FR-S helped inject some excitement into the brand, but those benefits will be short lived. “The FR-S is doing well for them, but growth for it will level off as its time on the market grows,” he said. “Considering Scion is a youth-oriented brand and that younger consumers are more fashion-conscious and concerned with the “latest and greatest.”
Even though things seem tough for the company now, Scion might benefit from its current sales slump in the long run. Hot initial demand for the xA and xB caused hundreds of Toyota dealers to begin selling Scion, leaving the niche brand with a disproportionate number of stores. The Japanese automaker promised its dealers new products that would be worth waiting for and that’s not so hard to believe given the success of its most recent nameplate. Dixon agreed, saying ‘Toyota will work closely with Scion dealers to ensure that the brand doesn’t fall too far behind. Keep in mind that Toyota is known for playing its cards close to the vest.”
GALLERY: 2013 Scion FR-S
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