DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- Toyota Motor Corp.'s Scion brand, launched in 2003 to lure young U.S. buyers with “unexpected” designs and low prices, may add more upscale models as the automaker seeks to revive flagging sales.
Introducing future Scions that sell for more than the line's current sub-$20,000 range “is definitely an area we're more than studying,” Jack Hollis, Toyota's U.S. vice president who manages the Scion brand, said today at the Detroit auto show. “You'll see a larger range, from low-end to high-end, on Scion than we've ever had, and that will be part of where our expansion will be.”
Scion sales surged after the nameplate's introduction across the U.S., peaking at 173,034 units in 2006. Deliveries of xB wagons, xD hatchbacks and tC sport coupes have fallen since then, totaling just 45,678 last year, in part because of an aging model line and rising jobless rate among young U.S. consumers, Scion's core buyer group.
U.S. unemployment for those in their early 20s is about double the overall national average, Hollis said. Scion's average customer is 37 years old, the youngest in the industry, with buyers of tC coupes just 29 years old on average, said Craig Taguchi, a Scion spokesman.
Since the brand has achieved the initial goal of attracting younger customers, there's now a focus on appealing to drivers with a “young mindset” who may also have higher incomes, Hollis said.
While he provided no details of specific new models, Scion is working on a performance-oriented vehicle that may be shown this year, Hollis said.
The Scion iQ minicar that goes on sale this year also will have higher quality interior materials and better ride and handling than segment competitors such as Daimler AG's Smart car and BMW AG's Mini Cooper, he said.