Toyota Seeks to Double Scion tC Sales with New VersionBy Michelle Krebs September 15, 2010
Toyota hopes to breathe new life into its youth-oriented Scion brand by more than doubling sales of its volume-leading tC, which is redesigned as a 2011 model and goes on sale Oct. 1.
At a test drive event in the Detroit area Wednesday, Scion chief Jack Hollis said the goal is to sell 35,000 to 45,000 units of the revised sporty tC coupe in its first full year of sales. Scion sold only 18,000 tCs in 2009, one of the worst years in recent memory for industrywide auto sales.
Sales will depend where the U.S. market as a whole goes, said Hollis. "In the sporty subcomact segment, there aren't a lot of players so there's the potential to grow."
The sporty tC was model introduced as a Scion, a brand created just seven years ago. Since then, 310,000 of the 800,000 Scion vehicles sold in the U.S. - about 40 percent - have been of the tC.
Hollis said demographics for the new tC, which delivers more horsepower, more torque and better fuel economy but maintains a starting price of under $20,000, likely will be similar to those of the previous tC. The tC generally attracts male buyers more than female and has the youngest average buyer age -- at 26 -- in the industry.
No Reprise of xB Experience
With the tC, Scion execs hope not to repeat the experience of the second-generation xB. The most recent generation xB introduced last year gained power and size but not sales. In fact, sales fell.
Hollis acknowledged the decline and blamed dismal industry sales. He insisted the new xB continued to draw non-traditional Toyota buyers as Scion was created to do. There just weren't as many of them because entry level buyers, like those interested in Scions, were hardest hit by the recession. Still, he noted, 71 percent of new-gen xB buyers were new to the Scion brand and 90 percent said they would not have considered a Toyota.
What Hollis didn't mention was the fact that the xB was widely criticized as losing its Scion edginess -- too Camryized as some said. And it suddenly gained new competition from the likes of the wildly successful Kia Soul and Nissan Cube, both of which have been outselling the xB, as well as the Honda Element.
Scion Future Plans
Hollis said while Toyota has no firm plans to do so, it is considering building Scion models in North America longer term. The Scion brand launches in Canada late this month, and the tC, for the first time, will be sold in overseas markets in China and the Middle East, as a Toyota -- not a Scion -- vehicle.
The tC was developed as a Scion from the start; other Scion models -- the xB and xD -- are Toyota models sold elsewhere that were "Scionized," as Hollis noted for the U.S. market.
A hybrid or electric version could be in Scion's future -- when the cost of the new technology comes down. Hollis said currently the high cost of hybrid and electric technology make it prohibitive for Scion, which promises an under $20,000 price tag.
In the much shorter term, Scion will add another model to its U.S. line; the iQ arrives early next year.