That seems to be what the Scion brand is doing lately, if sales figures are any indication.
A dismal year in both Canada and the U.S. has the youth-oriented Toyota Motor Corp. subsidiary against the ropes – desperate to recapture both sales and the car buying public’s attention.
Last year saw Scion sales drop a collar-tugging 20.4% in Canada compared to 2013, with a 15.1% drop in the U.S. market.
In a bid to shed dead weight, Scion announced last year it would be phasing out its micro-sized iQ, as well as its xD and larger xB hatches, the latter of which was the fledgling brand’s first quirky success story.
Sold in the U.S. since 2004 (and in Canada since the fall of 2010), the funky-yet-practical xB became synonymous with the brand – a box with personality – but soon found itself suffering from declining sales.
U.S. sales figures for the xB reached a high point of over 61,000 units in 2006, but since fell to less than 17,000 in 2014.
The slow-selling FR-S sport coupe released in 2012 in collaboration with Subaru (and sold as the Toyota GT86 overseas) isn’t going to be any company’s bread and butter, nor is the competent but aging tC coupe, which means fresh offerings are needed to keep the brand buoyant.
Recently, Scion offered a peak at what the near future holds for the brand, and it isn’t all that exciting. On Jan. 7, Scion announced it would be introducing the iM hatch at the New York International Auto Show in April.
The model’s concept, unveiled late last year, somewhat resembles the love child of a Mazda 3 and a Toyota Yaris.
The press release makes sure to touch on the youthfulness of the iM:
“The new iM represents one of the two new models that Scion will bring to market in the next three years aimed at independently minded drivers. The vehicles will bring exciting options for Scion’s youthful customers looking for vehicles to support both adventure and sensibility.”
Did you catch that? Yes, the iM’s press release points to a SECOND Scion vehicle we can expect to see unveiled this year.
And what kind of vehicle will this shadowy savior be? A sedan!
Yes, Scion’s first-ever sedan, which will have its work cut out for it trying to distinguish itself in such a crowded (and competitive) field.
Scion says the new sedan, as well as the iM and another model to be introduced in the near future, are “aimed at independently minded 18-34 year olds.”
But there’s so damn few of those! I hope Scion knows what it’s gotten itself into (though I have to imagine they’re more concerned with getting themselves out of their current sales slump).
As excited as Scion is about their new babies, not everyone is marking the days on the calendar. Over at Jalopnik, David Torchinsky called the sedan announcement part of Scion’s “bold plan to phone it in,” cheekily posting an image of an xB with a Toyota Avalon’s trunk grafted onto its ass.
Rumour has it that the sedan will be based on the upcoming Mazda 2, which wouldn’t necessarily be a terrible thing. A two-week drive in a Mazda 2 this past summer made me appreciate the plucky car’s interior room, front seat comfort, and go-kart-like handling.
If the bones underneath this sedan are already competent, it’s up to Scion to make the body memorable and desirable. Those Millennials are fickle, status-quo shunning people, after all…*
…so my advice would be to give it the boxy body of a 1970s Fiat/Lada and call it good.