TOKYO -- Scion is a hit, but Toyota's new president is not ready to assemble Scion vehicles in North America.
Small cars aimed at young buyers remain faddish. Sales of any model can be quite strong and then tumble suddenly, says Katsuaki Watanabe.
For example, Toyota would be hard-pressed to slash production quickly if that happened to a Scion model built at the plant planned in Woodstock, Ontario. The plant will build Toyota RAV4 SUVs.
"We don't like to do layoffs," Watanabe says. "There's a risk" inherent in Scion vehicles.
Scion has been and remains "a major challenge" for Toyota, Watanabe says. Attracting a younger cadre of buyers has been a considerable task for the carmaker.
Toyota sold 74,862 Scions in the first half of 2005 in the United States, more than double what it sold in the year-ago period. On June 30, Toyota said that the Woodstock plant will open in 2008. It will have an initial planned capacity of 100,000 RAV4s. But Toyota typically has expanded its North American plants beyond their initial capacity targets.
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