There’s no question that Toyota’s “Youth” brand, that launched on the wave of the import tuner fad a decade ago, has gone through some hard times since the recession hit in 2008. With many of it’s younger, college graduate buyers no longer able to qualify for financing because of tighter lending rules, Scion saw demand plummet from 173,034 units in 2006, to around 44,000 last year.
Other problems contributing to the drop in Scion demand have been recent supply issues and a strengthening yen which, since all current Scion models are built in Japan, has caused difficulties in availability and the squeezing of profit margins.
In order to rectify the situation, perhaps going more mainstream would make more sense. If that proves to be the case, then models like the xB, which came to identify Scion’s youth focused approach would probably give way to more conventional replacements.
“We not replace the xB by name, one for one. The first generation, we needed the box. The second generation, we still liked the box, but we started looking for things that would stand out like the box. No one is saying [the next one] has to be a box,” said Scion’s vice president, Jack Hollis.
Since Scion launched nationally in the US in 2004, it’s buyer demographic has been aging, from an average of just 35 years old at launch to 43 last year, nonetheless that’s still well below the industry average.
Nevertheless, with cars like the fringe iQ econobox and the highly anticipated, though very much niche focused FR-S, plus plans to expands it’s motorsports presence, it doesn’t appear that Toyota’s youth brand shows any signs of growing up just yet.
[Source: Automotive News]