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With its first true sports car heading to dealerships in June, Scion is looking to beef up its motorsports presence admits brand boss Jack Hollis.
Speaking at a press launch for the new rear-wheel drive FR-S in Las Vegas, Hollis commented Scion’s continued presence in Formula Drift and how the FR-S is making the brand more “authentic.”
“Let’s be honest,” said Hollis to the gatherer journalists, “with the TC we’ve done more than we authentically should have” referring of course to its transformation into a rear-drive NASCAR V8 powered drift machine. Scion now campaigns the FR-S in drifting, Greddy-built FR-S driven by Ken Gushi.
As much as the drifting scene suits the Scion brand’s sport compact origins, many motorsports enthusiasts consider it to be less of a form of motorsports and more of a spectacle. With the FR-S having all the makings of a budget road racer, when pressed, Hollis elaborated on the future of Scion in motorsports.
“Drifting is something we’ve been enjoying,” he said, and commented that Scion will take the next step into traditional competitive motorsports thanks to the FR-S. “We’re expanding our lineup and you should expect that we will expand our racing teams’ influence and participation.”
The first 86 people in North America to own a Scion FR-S are pretty lucky as it is, but their deal just got a lot sweeter thanks to some VIP treatment from Toyota.
Apparently the privileged few who managed to get an order in ahead of the masses also get an expenses-paid trip to Long Beach, Calif. in April to sit front row at Formula Drift. They also get to have dinner with Scion vice president Jack Hollis which includes a Q&A session.
Sure, the stripped-down version isn’t making it to American soil, but this is arguably a better reward for enthusiasts than offering a tuner-specific package.
It’s especially cool that this came as a surprise, though the majority of people lining up to buy an FR-S probably feel jealous if not disappointed.
Despite this, it seems an official price is still under wraps, though we’ll make a lot of noise once word gets out.
GALLERY: 2013 Scion FR-S
Discuss this story at FR-SForum.com
Unless you’ve been living under a rock that’s inside a cave the last couple of months, you might have heard of the Toyota GT 86 which will be coming to America as the Scion FR-S. But in case you haven’t heard of the FR-S (you can read our review here), Scion went out and shot a commercial recently with drifter Ken Gushi behind the wheel.
ATTIK creative agency was called upon to direct the ad, with Simon Needham at the helm. ATTIK is also known for Scion’s wacky Zeus Release Series campaign that was well, wacky. Scion Vice President Jack Hollis also spent the day at the commercial shoot and even had time to speak to Ken Gushi to get his feedback on the new sports car.
The behind-the-scenes look that Scion has shared with us is pretty neat, seeing all the cameras and contraptions utilized to film the commercials. Three unique commercials were shot that day and will air nationally this spring when the FR-S goes on sale. We’re definitely interested to see what the results were and expect nothing but excitement with Gushi behind the wheel in the ads.
GALLERY: Scion FR-S Behind the Scenes Commercial Shoot
[Source: Scion Blog]
In the midst of launching its iQ mini-car and in preparation of the massive spike in exposure the brand will get from the FR-S sports car, Scion VP Jack Hollis is already looking into the distant future. “We are currently working on several different concepts,” he says sitting in the back seat of a highly customized xB at the SEMA Show.
As for exactly what those concepts will be, he won’t say, but Scion does have two models that will soon be in need of overhauls, while the brand is always looking to grow its product offering. In previous discussions Hollis has mentioned his interest in bringing a mini-truck to market; something compact and car-based, a size down from the incredibly popular Toyota Tacoma.
“Versus other vehicles, I can’t say it’s priority one,” admits Hollis, however, he says, “I’m very interested in it. A lot of prospective owners are interested in it and every meeting I have in Japan, I’m asking, what else can we do.”
Not prepared to just ask, Hollis has a plan for a new model that would evolve much like with the Toyota-Subaru tie-up that produced the FR-S (FT-86/BRZ). Initially, he says, he wanted to see about bringing over a small truck from Toyota subsidiary Daihatsu, but with all the necessary regulations it was impossible to make a business case for it. Instead, Hollis suggests he’d like to see a collaboration with Daihatsu, sharing a product and developing it together from inception.
In addition to a min-truck, Hollis believes there’s room in the Scion brand for even more vehicles in the compact and sub-compact range. “I think there’s a movement towards small cars,” he says.
Beyond new additions to the brand, Scion also needs to look at revamping its current lineup, particularly the lacklustre xD and volume selling xB. The xD and its predecessor the xA have never performed as well as they could, lagging behind sub-compact top sellers like the Yaris, Fit and Versa in a segment where, considering its targeted market, Scion should be tops. While mum on the xB, Hollis says not to expect just another version of the xD. Speaking about its replacement, he says that “If I get my wishes it will be nothing like the xA or xD.”
With the official debut of the Toyota FT-86 planned for the Tokyo Motor Show later this month, the Scion version is expected to arrive at the New York Auto Show in the Spring. Hollis wouldn’t say as much, but considering Scion’s history of debuting concept cars in the Big Apple, look for a hint at future product too.
When the Scion iQ city car goes on sale this October it will be offered exclusively with a CVT transmission. That, however, is likely to change admits brand boss Jack Hollis
“We already have it,” he told AutoGuide, referring to the 6-speed manual currently offered on the Toyota-branded iQ in Europe. Now it’s just a question of getting it certified for use on U.S. roads.
“We can do it,” he said with enthusiasm, commenting that he’d like to see it introduced in the iQ as part of a limited edition Release Series model. Until then, find out why we don’t hate the CVT transmission here.
GALLERY: 2012 Scion iQ
Click here to read AutoGuide’s 2012 Scion iQ review and discuss this story at iQ-forums.com
Plus, watch the video review after the jump:
Scion is lowering its expectations for the new 2011 tC, announcing sales targets below what the youth-oriented brand was targeting earlier this year. According to brand VP Jack Hollis, Scion is now hoping to sell between 35,000 to 45,000 of the cars – down from a 40,000 to 50,000 estimate in March.
Still , Hollis says the tC will reinvigorate the brand, doubling sales for the most popular Scion model. Last year Scion sold just 18,000 tCs, down 56 percent from 2008. It’s not clear if the downgrade is due to reaction to the car now that it has officially launched, revised economic expectations, or both. Hollis did point out the sales drop last year was due to the unique way in which the recession affected younger buyers – leaving a higher percentage of Scion’s target demographic unemployed.
While a solid improvement over the first generation tC, the new model isn’t as revolutionary as many had hoped. Hollis does believe in the product however, and commented that its success also relies on a lack of competition in the segment, with the Kia Forte Koup the car’s latest competitors – with the Honda Civic Coupe due for a remodel soon.
To reach the targets sales goal, Scion will be planning a marketing blitz
GALLERY: 2011 Scion tC
[Source: Automotive News]
All-wheel drive likely for future Scions
Toyota’s hybrid technology is too expensive to be used in Scion models says brand VP Jack Hollis. In an interview with Ward’s Auto, Hollis explained that a hybrid Scion model would essentially be out of the price range of the brand’s target demographic. Scion works to keep all its cars at, or starting at, under the $20,000 mark.
This news comes just days after Honda said a hybrid version of the Fit might not be in the works after all, due to prohibitive cost.
Hollis admits that not having hybrid Scions is particularly unfortunate as the typical Scion buyer is more likely to be open to hybrid technology and want to drive a vehicle that has a reduced impact on the environment. “Youth seem to be very, very cognizant of their environment and the footprint they’re leaving,” says Hollis, who went on to dismiss claims that the Toyota FT-CH hybrid concept shown at the Detroit Auto Show could one day be a Scion.
Toyota previewed the FT-CH and said that it would most likely debut as a smaller Prius model, expanding the Prius name into a family of vehicles. Scion is expected to deliver two new models in the near future, with the iQ concept one possibility, and a new version of the tC reportedly in the works.
Hollis did says that hybrid models are in Scion’s long-term future and even dropped another bomb – stating that all-wheel drive Scion models could be possible. In fact, Scion has already engaged in talks with Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., the parent company for Subaru, about using its AWD technology. Hollis said that with AWD he believes a sub-$20,000 model could be offered and even commented that the partnership between the two companies has, “just begun.”
Could an AWD FT-86 model perhaps be the future of Scion?
Toyota’s youth-oriented Scion brand is open to the possibility of a pickup truck model says brand manager Jack Hollis. In an interview with Ward’s Hollis admitted that a compact pickup might fit well in the Scion brand, a reversal on previous statements that pickups are out of the question.
Initially Scion feared that compact pickups were too traditional, but now the truck market has changed and it could mesh nicely with Scion’s less traditional clientele. After all, Toyota has made a success out of the Tacoma, with sales of 111,824 last year doubling its nearest competitor, the Ford Ranger. However, the problem would be to not cannibalize the Toyota trucks for the benefit of Scion.
Hollis seems to have a plan. He believes, and rightly so, that compact pickups have grown over the years and evolved into something as capable as older full-sized trucks. As a result, Scion could build a truly compact pickup. Interestingly, Scion isn’t the only youth-oriented brand looking in this direction with Kia execs recently admitting that the Soul’Ster concept could be an attractive entry-level truck – if it ever makes it to market.
While Scion has shown a concept truck based on the xB in the past, it was a SEMA Show car and not really an official concept. The Hako concept (below), which Scion showed at the New York Auto Show back in 2008 might be a closer idea of the direction Scion might head.
While speculation is rampant, Hollis admits that there are no plans to introduce any such model in the near future. Scion, a brand which has suffered a considerable drop in popularity as of late, with sales deceasing 49.1 percent last year, is looking to reinvigorate its lineup with several models rumored to be unveiled in the next 12 months, including a model based on the Toyota iQ mini car and a much-needed replacement for the tC.
The Scion brand is all about being youthful, modern and relevant. But apparently no one told that to the tC. Once a rival to Honda’s Civic Coupe, the tC has outlived its stay with (so far) a six year production cycle. As the brand’s flagship it has even been surpassed by the edgy xB.
In a recent interview with AutoWeek about the upcoming Scion iQ, the company’s VP Jack Hollis said that, “the next-generation tC is our top priority now.”
The exciting news is that the next tC is expected to be powered by the same 2.7-liter four-cylinder that is making its way into most of Toyota’s vehicles. With the displacement increase from the old 2.4-liter four-cylinder, horsepower should rise as well, from the current 161hp, much closer to the 200hp mark.
A high-horsepower model is something Scion customers have expressed considerable interest, says the brand’s manager Dawn Ahmed, citing a hybrid model as the next most popular demand.
Hollis insisted that future Scions will continue to have just one trim level and a long list of aftermarket options will be made available to them. He also said that it’s unlikely for Scion to expand above the sub-compact segment or to use anything larger than a four-cylinder engine.
As for that new tC, Hollis says a redesign is due out in 2010 as a 2011 model.
First shown as a concept (above) at the New York Auto Show earlier this year, Scion will reportedly bring the iQ to market by the Fall of 2010.
After receiving an excellent reception at the show, Scion’s VP, Jack Hollis has said he is fighting to get the car to market. One large Toyota dealer, has however, spilled the beans, telling the folks at AutoWeek that an agreement has been reached to bring the diminutive car to the U.S.
At a length of just 117.5-inches, the iQ is only slightly larger than a SMART fortwo. Unlike the SMART, however, the iQ can fit three adults and a child… at least that’s what Scion says. Taking a look at the car, however, it appears as though seating for two is about all there’s room for.
While several engine options are available in Europe, the iQ will most likely get the largest (1.3-liter four-cylinder) when it debuts in the U.S. That engine makes 99hp and gets 66 mpg.
Scion is a company desperate to reinvent itself, as its popularity is based as much on fresh product as it is on customizing that product. “Scion is a good business mode that will be valuable and viable in the future, but for the business model to be successful, product freshness is key,” said Toyota North America president and COO Yoshi Inaba. And fresh-product isn’t something Scion has much of. Currently the company is working on a replacement to the tC coupe, while the iconic Scion, the xB, is already starting to lose out to new models like the Kia Soul.