Toyota’s youth division has started to look like a neglected child. Outside of the Subaru-built FR-S, Scion offers an aging product line that all together won’t break 100,000 sales this year. However, Toyota is determined to prove that there is still life on Planet Scion.
There was its raft of SEMA concepts this year, and the division plans to show the iM concept car—which it teased late last month—at the Los Angeles auto show in mid-November. Two new production cars are then scheduled to bow at the New York auto show next April, says Scion corporate manager Dave Harbuck.
The first car will be the production iM, which is essentially a rebadged version of the Toyota Auris Touring Sports, a small wagon sold in Europe. (The 2013 model is shown above.) Harbuck wouldn’t identify the second car, only saying that it would make sense for Scion to leverage Toyota’s global portfolio for products that could work in the United States.
A quick scan of Toyota’s European line-up shows two potential candidates: the Aygo small hatchback and the Verso, a compact tall hatchback that still manages to offer three seat rows. While the funky Aygo fits Scion’s mission perfectly, to be a laboratory for new concepts and segments aimed at younger buyers, the car is a joint venture project with PSA Peugeot Citroën (it’s also sold as the Citroën C1 and Peugeot 107) and perhaps doesn’t meet U.S. crash regulations. The Verso would give Scion yet another five-door box, but one with seven-passenger seating, assuming the rearmost row can pass U.S. crash regs. Another option might be the Toyota Europe’s Urban Cruiser, basically a Scion xD but with optional all-wheel-drive, a feature as yet unavailable in any Scion product but one in high demand.
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According to Harbuck, Scion sales peaked in 2006 at 173,000 but since then have been sliding. With an average transaction price of around $ 24,000, Scion as a brand has stayed firmly in the budget end of the market where it began, but neither the latest xB nor the tC have taken off like their predecessors. While the rear-drive FR-S has serious sporting credibility, the supply from Subaru is limited. However, Harbuck says the two new products Scion is introducing should raise the division’s sales back to its peak.