DETROIT – Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s officials say Scion has been successful in wooing younger buyers to its brand, its goal at launch in 2004.
But the brand also has suffered the unintended consequence of drawing older, more cost-conscious buyers as well.
“Right now, you see the lower the price the higher the median age,” Jack Hollis, Scion vice president, tells Ward’s in an interview at the North American International Auto Show here.
“Younger people are buying (our less-expensive cars), but guess what? Sixty and older are buying them at an even greater (level),” he says. “I think what you see is that the correlation between price and youth is not necessarily as strong as it has been.”
With that in mind, Hollis is confident Scion could add higher-priced models to its lineup, in addition to its three sub-$20,000 cars, and still draw younger buyers to its showroom.
“I think you’ll see four and five vehicles, possibly more (in Scion’s lineup), with a gap that could (span) $10,000,” Hollis says, noting younger consumers buy the brand for its image and not necessarily the vehicle price.
Media reports have said Scion plans to market a $25,000 rear-wheel-drive coupe to be jointly developed by Toyota Motor Corp. and Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd., maker of Subaru, in which Toyota holds a controlling stake.
Hollis does not directly address the RWD model, jokingly called a “Toyobaru” by enthusiasts, instead advising interested parties to come to the New York auto show in April.
Akio Toyoda, TMC president, this week told automotive journalists here Scion is stronger than it’s ever been, despite sales falling below 50,000 units in 2010.
Hollis says Toyoda’s upbeat attitude about Scion is because buyers of the brand continue to be the youngest in the industry, with 70% new to the Toyota stable.
“People think strength means volume,” he says. “(But to us), strength is always going to mean who we’re getting as a buyer.”
At the same time, Hollis acknowledges Scion needs to grow its sales beyond the 45,678 units in 2010.
The auto maker will expand its lineup this year with the iQ minicar, debuting at the New York auto show in April, and continues to consider other models, such as a small unibody pickup.