Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
NINETY EIGHT REGENCY

Will Scion Change The World?

24 posts in this topic

Will Scion Change The World?

Jerry Flint, 06.26.07, 6:00 AM ET

Toyota Motor's Scion--a division within a division--could be the new millennium version of the original Volkswagen Beetle. The Beetle, when it came to the U.S., was like nothing else on the road. The two-door sedan was small, ugly and underpowered. The earliest versions do not even have a blinking turn signal. What the Beetle did have was an attractive price, just $1,600 back in 1958.

In the Beetle's heyday, most of us in Detroit did not understand why all those college kids were buying that ugly, noisy car that could hardly make it up a hill even with the wind on its tail.

Nevertheless, that Beetle was the Beginning of Something Big--actually several big things. It marked the success of the small car in this market, and the revolt against fins and "longer, lower, wider." It was also in the vanguard of the foreign invasion. Today, foreigners account for more than half the car sales in the U.S. and are now gaining sales and market share in light trucks.

That early Beetle sold 100,000 cars in 1959 when total U.S. car sales were about 6 million. VW's (other-otc: VLKAY - news - people ) biggest year, when it had a few more models besides the Beetle, was 1968, when it sold 569,000.

The Scion model we all think of, the box-shaped xB, is also like nothing else on the road. The first xB was small, ugly and underpowered, but like the early Beetle, it was affordable and lovable in its own funky sort of way.

Last year, the entire Scion lineup sold 173,000, but only 61,300 were the xB. That is 61,300 sales for the whole year out of a total U.S. market of 16.6 million cars and light trucks. Last year, the best-selling Scion was actually the tC, a small, attractive, low-priced coupe, with 79,100 deliveries. Unlike the xB, the tC is conventional in appearance.

The third Scion model in the original crop, the xA, was a simple four-door hatchback that looked like an old Korean design and sold about 33,000 a year. I would call that a flop.

Contrary to some of my earlier pronouncements, I now admit that Scion all together is a success. In marketing Scion, Toyota (nyse: TM - news - people ) downplayed traditional advertising venues such as newspapers and magazines. Instead, it focused on Internet advertising, displaying the car at special events, such as parties, concerts, art shows and public test drives, and word-of-mouth "viral" advertising, which some think is the way to get your message out to a young, hip crowd.

Oh yes, Scion's premium auto system will play short animations and video clips. I do not understand the value in this. Then again, I am not going to see Pirates of the Caribbean 3, either.

Toyota sells Scions at a fixed price and, allegedly, with no bargaining (like Saturn). All models are well equipped to start. On the xB, the buyer only chooses the color and transmission. Standard are air conditioning, cruise control, side curtain airbags and an iPod adapter. Even stability and traction control are standard.

Scion buyers can also choose from a list of accessories, which Toyota adds at a port facility or the dealer installs. The typical buyer takes $1,000 worth.

At present, Toyota builds all the Scion models in Japan, where, thanks to that undervalued yen currency, they come here priced low. If the division is to grow, to 300,000 annual sales or more, it is reasonable to think that Toyota will someday build at least some models in the U.S.

Scion is now at a turning point, as it going through its first model change--something that Toyota management promised it would do frequently, to help maintain the buzz with its trendy buyers. We will know in a few years whether this strategy has been successful or whether Scion has become just another slowly growing mainstream operation.

The new Scion xB, just on sale, is nowhere near as boxy as the original model. It's 167 inches long, which still is short, but is a foot longer than the original xB. It is also three inches wider, so inside room is up 36%, and the back seat is spacious. The horsepower, 158, is up significantly from 103 in the first-generation xB. The price is up, too, to an average sticker of $18,000 (versus $16,000 for the previous version). I wonder whether the new, less quirky xB will attract more customers or just turn off Scion loyalists.

One area where the new xB is a disappointment is gas mileage. My editor writes me: "That new xB gets 28 miles per gallon on the highway. From a four-cylinder with 158 horsepower? My Acura TL gets 29 on the highway and has a V-6 with 258 hp."

It's true, the xB's fuel economy is not exceptional--a sore point for a vehicle designed for price-sensitive customers, especially since it's being introduced just when gas prices are near an all-time high.

Late this summer, Toyota is replacing the second original Scion model, the old xA, by something called the xD, a vastly better little four-door hatchback. I predict healthy sales for this model, but it will face fierce competition from other small cars from Honda Motor (nyse: HMC - news - people ), Nissan (nasdaq: NSANY - news - people ) and Toyota.

I do not know which way Scion will go, but I think that the nameplate is at a turning point.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Why is it that Jerry Flint never seems to know what he's talking about?

"gaining marketshare in light trucks..." By what measure?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I do not know which way Scion will go, but I think that the nameplate is at a turning point.

Yes. Turning down.

My post from another thread...

But under Scion, its become iconic of brand with its funkalicious advertising, nonsensical looks, and the like. You can somehow very easily rationalize an xB and its overall low utility because its unique. In that sense, Scion is a complete shill that relies pretty much 100% on the merits of creative marketing, and even if you think the products are disgusting, one has to admire that aspect of it.

And keeping with this thread's topic, I think Scion made a big mistake with the new xB. Instead of just federalizing a JDM bB, they've moved it up to a Corolla platform and made it bigger - a lot bigger - heavier, and more powerful. Dimensionally, though, its the same height, so it really more of a squared-off HHR than something truly unique like the old xB. I'm sure it'll sell well, but it won't sell to the same market. Remember that the original Scion buyer had no brand loyalty - that's why they purchased a Scion - only loyalty to something 'cool' and different, something Scion itself acknowleged by initially stating that no product will ever have a second generation, just a general successor. The 2008 xB seems to count one brand loyalty without offering that same kitsch factor to be loyal to. Now, its just another compact 5-door hatchback instead of a unduplicated minicar with pizzaz. And another big problem is that the xB seems to have partially filled the void of the small, compact CUV that the RAV4 once occupied. Treating it like another cog in the Toyota machinery? Isn't that the anti-Scion thing to do?

That's my take anyway.

This new xB has ceased to be a Scion and instead has become another bloated placeholder in the Toyota lineup.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think its hard to say Scion is not a marketing success because it managed to move a large number of utterly undesireable vehicles far more than it would've under the Toyota banner...but beyond that...

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If there was any question that Toyota has completely bamboozled many members of the Press, articles like this eliminate said question. The Scions are unbelievably UGLY. They even make the Element (another POS, IMO) look good. Yet, these self appointed experts gush all over it like it is the next Duesenberg..............

Honestly, I just don't get this unbridled admiration. There are far more original products coming out from Jeep, Mazda and others, yet this constant hyping of ALL THINGS TOYOTA is just getting hysterical.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think its hard to say Scion is not a marketing success because it managed to move a large number of utterly undesireable vehicles far more than it would've under the Toyota banner...but beyond that...

Except that it was marketed as a "youth brand" but sells to retirees.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"VW's biggest year, when it had a few more models besides the Beetle, was 1968, when it sold 569,000."<<

FANTAGASMICALLY INTERRRRESTING !!!; why have I not read incessant reminders of VW's falling marketshare 12-20 times a year for the last 20-40 years ????? ???? ????? ????? ???? ????? Or weepy, whiny, long-winded articles on 'how to fix VW' or 'what's wrong with VW' or how about 'VW; how far will they fall?'

Nope: never... never mentioned ever. Why?? No worries O.C. & Satty, it's not that mythical bias... just plain & simply coincidental oversight. Oversight of hundreds & hundreds of journalists over decades & decades & decades just... missed it.

Oops.

Edited by balthazar
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"...only 61,300 were the xB"<<

Any info on the fleet % ?? Because as I've learn on these very boards: those don't count. I see quite a few fleeted xbs running around NJ.

>>"At present, Toyota builds all the Scion models in Japan, where, thanks to that undervalued yen currency, they come here priced low. "<<

W... w.... w-wha what of the bit about toyota being "American" and "good for the American economy"? Doesn't that apply here, or did I forget- toyota can do no wrong?

>>"The new Scion xB... It's 167 inches long... a foot longer than the original... ...three inches wider, so inside room is up 36%, and the back seat is spacious. ...horsepower, 158, is up significantly.... The price is up, too.... One area where the new xB is a disappointment is gas mileage. "<<

Nary a paragraph of biting snidery about gaining a whopping SIXHUNDREDPOUNDS ?!?!?!

Dwelling on a backwards engineering move apparently doesn't apply for toyota.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Man... I so want the guys Rolodex. He's on some awesome stuff.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"...only 61,300 were the xB"<<

Any info on the fleet % ?? Because as I've learn on these very boards: those don't count. I see quite a few fleeted xbs running around NJ.

Scion xB - 2.7% fleet penetration

Scion xA - 0.9%

Scion xC - 0.3%

Pretty much insignificant.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"Scion xB - 2.7% fleet penetration"<<

I find that highly suspect. Would love to learn what toyota's 'cut-off' is for determining a fleet sale.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will Scion change the world? No. Its a North American-only brand that's playing in the same niche that the VW Beetle was playing in forty years ago. The world's been changed by this segment and Scion (other than its unusual designs) offers absolutely nothing new.

Edited by AxelTheRed
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read this month's Car & Driver to see why the new xB will fail.

Did they bitch about it bad?

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did they bitch about it bad?

Yeah. Pretty much what I said above, but backed up with hard figures and testing.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah. Pretty much what I said above, but backed up with hard figures and testing.

Yeah truth needs to be out. I remember every car magazine whining about the 500lb more in the Vue. The same bitchiness should exist when they experience the 600lb hunkier pile. In fact edmunds successfully avoided going into those gory details of how heavy the new XB is. One down for XB (edmunds) and one against XB (CandD). Let us see what other ragazines throw out of their a$$.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Read this month's Car & Driver to see why the new xB will fail.

that article was extremely satisfying and reminded me that the old scrappy C/D is back.

And I'm sorry, 22 mpg?

I just put gas in the wife's aztek tonight. 23.6 mpg in in town only driving. i guess it could be the new michelin hydroedge's contributing to better mpg but c'mon, the aztek weighs another 1000 over the xb, has more room and has a 6. and get equal or better gas mileage.

and its better looking. how can anyone feel good about the new xb?

Edited by regfootball
0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. Turning down.

My post from another thread...

This new xB has ceased to be a Scion and instead has become another bloated placeholder in the Toyota lineup.

Exactly. I predict Scion will be the not hot new thing amoung twentysomething hipsters in about two years. The new xB is still largely improved over the original Chrysler minivan, which is seemingly what Toyota has based its design on.

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"VW's biggest year, when it had a few more models besides the Beetle, was 1968, when it sold 569,000."<<

FANTAGASMICALLY INTERRRRESTING !!!; why have I not read incessant reminders of VW's falling marketshare 12-20 times a year for the last 20-40 years ????? ???? ????? ????? ???? ????? Or weepy, whiny, long-winded articles on 'how to fix VW' or 'what's wrong with VW' or how about 'VW; how far will they fall?'

Nope: never... never mentioned ever. Why?? No worries O.C. & Satty, it's not that mythical bias... just plain & simply coincidental oversight. Oversight of hundreds & hundreds of journalists over decades & decades & decades just... missed it.

Oops.

VW has never seemingly gotten water cooled cars right. 1968 was right before VW's fall from grace, IMHO. By about 1971 better economy cars were available from Chrysler (Dart/Demon etc.) Ford (Maverick) and Chevrolet (Nova).

VW hasn't stopped falling since.

Given how often (the newer) VW's cars actually start they are good for the environment however, so they have that in their favor.

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

that article was extremely satisfying and reminded me that the old scrappy C/D is back.

And I'm sorry, 22 mpg?

I just put gas in the wife's aztek tonight. 23.6 mpg in in town only driving. i guess it could be the new michelin hydroedge's contributing to better mpg but c'mon, the aztek weighs another 1000 over the xb, has more room and has a 6. and get equal or better gas mileage.

and its better looking. how can anyone feel good about the new xb?

I just put gas in my (first gen) xB last night. That makes 11 tanks in a row where it has been 35+ m.p.g.

What the hell did Toyota do to the second gen to make it suck gas like a frieght train?

Chris

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

They put the 2.4 in the second gen so it will actually be able to get out of its own way. I like the new xB, I liked the old xB, I'm going to go try to test drive an '08 in a little while. Unfortunately my dealer only has 1 in stock and it has $5k in accessories that price it over my coveted Mini. I've also gained a healthy respect for the tC and really cant wait to see what they do to follow it up.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sad thing is, if sales drop with the new models due to lack of desirability or interest, we'll never know for sure. Toyota can owe it to "controlling" volume to prevent brand saturation. All the recent PR articles for Scion point towards this strategy if Scion starts to have problems.

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

>>"Scion xB - 2.7% fleet penetration"<<

I find that highly suspect. Would love to learn what toyota's 'cut-off' is for determining a fleet sale.

It's not Toyota's figure.

My stats came from Polk......

0

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Your content will need to be approved by a moderator

Guest
You are commenting as a guest. If you have an account, please sign in.
Reply to this topic...

×   You have pasted content with formatting.   Remove formatting

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0



  • Who's Online (See full list)

    There are no registered users currently online

  • Who's Chatting

    There are no users currently in the chat room