Make us your home page

A midlife sales crisis for Toyota's Scion brand?

NEW YORK — Five years after Toyota rolled out a hip, inexpensive and fuel-efficient brand called Scion, the Japanese automaker still sees it as a tool to attract young buyers. But slowing sales of Scion's eye-catching vehicles indicate they may be losing some cachet.

Scion's August sales in the U.S. tumbled nearly 20 percent from a year earlier. So far this year, sales are up 2 percent — a noteworthy increase given the tough auto market. But that's compared to a remarkable slump for the brand in 2007, and it pales next to the growth of Toyota's and other automakers' small cars.

"There's real, viable opportunity for these models," said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst with the Waltham, Mass., consulting firm Global Insight. "It seems a little bit strange that they wouldn't be saying, 'Hey, you know what, we've got a really big chance here, let's go for it.' "

Toyota Motor Corp. launched Scion in 2003 with two models: the xA, a stout, subcompact hatchback, and the xB, a boxy, five-door wagon. It rolled out the tC, a small coupe with a sportier look, a year later. In 2007, it replaced the xA with the similar xD.

Toyota priced the cars inexpensively and made them highly customizable, with options like fancy wheel covers and an array of audio upgrades. No-haggle pricing in hip showrooms was designed to make the purchase process easier on young buyers.

Toyota executives say Scion was never meant to be a top-selling brand, but is more about appealing to Generation Y.

Indeed, Scion buyers are the youngest in the industry, with a median age 20 years younger than Toyota's 52. And 47 percent of Scion buyers later purchase either a Toyota or another Scion, according to J.D. Power and Associates' Power Information Network.

Despite the youth appeal, sales in 2007 fell 25 percent to 130,181 and are up just 2 percent so far this year. Sales of the Toyota Yaris, by contrast, are up 32 percent so far this year. The Honda Fit hatchback has seen a 56 percent rise, while Ford Focus sales are up 26 percent.

Scion's most-efficient xD model gets 33 miles per gallon on the highway, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. The Yaris gets 36, the 2008 Fit gets up to 34, and the Focus gets 35.

A midlife sales crisis for Toyota's Scion brand? 09/15/08 [Last modified: Monday, September 15, 2008 10:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

  2. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront


    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers


    TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

    A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
  4. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

  5. Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena to host job fair today


    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and its home, Amalie Arena, are hosting a part-time job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today on the Promenade Level of the arena. Available positions include platinum services, parking attendants, event security, housekeeping, retail and many other departments.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning and AMALIE Arena is hosting a part-time job fair on Thursday, Aug. 17 on the Promenade level of the arena.