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straight cash homie
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http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-10-07-scion06_CV_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip


LONG BEACH, Calif. — Willowy models wander around in short shorts, Katy Perry's summer anthem California Gurls blasts from a DJ's stereo, and a nice turnout of Scion devotees wolf down free tacos.

As successful promotions go, this one had all the right stuff. There was just one problem. Though they'd come to see the new tC sports car that went on sale Friday, most members of the Scion Evolution car club invited to the recent event at a Toyota dealership here waxed nostalgic for the 7-year-old brand's first generation of vehicles, especially the boxy xB crossover. Some said they aren't as excited by the current lineup.

"When they came out, they had the quirkiness," explained Matt Sixt, 24, of La Habra Heights, Calif., who drives a bright orange original xB. "People wondered what happened to the weirdness, the unusualness."

Toyota created Scion to try to bring a little fun and fashion to the auto world. The goal was to attract young buyers with edgy, crazy designs and make them buy Toyota brands for life.

But after peaking in 2006, Scion has endured slipping sales, a second generation of products perceived as less edgy and a lack of buzz that leads to the inevitable question: Has Scion lost its cool factor?

Scion executives and its fans are quick to argue no, that the brand's troubles are merely a lull. A freshening of the lineup is underway. The aggressively styled tC is now out, and an iQ minicar, which is sure to be compared with the Smart Fortwo, is on the way — products they believe can resurrect the patina of cool. Inevitable improvements in the nation's economy, they predict, also will help turn around flagging sales.

Industry observers aren't as sure. "The brand has lost its quirky, youthful exuberance," says James Bell, analyst for Kelley Blue Book. "You can't manufacture trendiness."

Says George Peterson of consultant AutoPacific: "Scion can be considered a noble experiment that possibly failed."

Sales still sliding

Sales of each of the three Scion models so far this year have seen more dramatic drops from the same period last year than any Toyota-brand vehicle except the small, cheap Yaris. Collectively, Scion's three models sold 3,562 vehicles in September, less than half the sales of just one Toyota model, the Prius.

In the same month in 2006, Scion sold five times as many vehicles, Autodata reports.

Back then, Scion sold the tC, a subcompact sedan called the xA and the vehicle that put it on the automotive map, the xB crossover. The xB's squared-off look was considered so odd that it was described as looking like a microwave oven on wheels. No one was more surprised than Toyota executives when it proved to be the image maker for the brand.

But when the xB was redesigned for model year 2008, it was given a more powerful engine, grew by a foot, put on 600 pounds, gobbled 14% more gas and cost about $2,000 more. And the edgy box became a little more conventional. Likewise, the xA was followed by a larger xD sedan that never quite caught on.

Overnight, xB went from being "trendy even beyond Scion's expectation" to being dismissed as just a "small SUV crossover," Bell says. The xD was "stillborn." Shrinking sales have been a drag on the 996 of 1,233 Toyota dealers that sell Scions. The dealers had to buy signage, tools and parts, and train sales workers for the Scion brand; now, they don't have the sales to show for it.

Interestingly, while sales of Toyota products and the company's Lexus vehicles have been zapped by a succession of safety-related recalls this year — 15 so far between them — Scion hasn't had a single recall.

Just as its creators intended, Scion has one of the lowest average ages of buyers of any brand. Buyers of the current tC, for instance, are age 26, on average. But catering to the youth market presents its own unique challenges for Scion, including:

Credit. The credit crunch was hard enough on average Americans, but it was even tougher on twentysomethings. Scion was having trouble getting many of its buyers qualified for credit to buy new cars even when the economy was robust. Now, the "biggest challenge" is the tightening of credit, says Owen Peacock, marketing communications manager.


•Joblessness. While the national unemployment rate stood at 9.6% as of August — the latest figures until September's are released Friday — workers in the prime Scion-buying ages of 20 to 24 had a 14.9% jobless rate, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. For that age group in August 2006, the jobless rate was 8.1%.


Potential young buyers "have been hit hardest by the recession," says Jack Hollis, who heads Scion in the U.S. "They would love to get in a car, but they just can't right now."


Social networking. Flashy wheels don't mean as much to young adults in the digital age. More are keeping up with friends on Facebook, MySpace or via other online tools instead of driving over to visit them. Hollis says they take the attitude: "You don't need a car anymore because you have a computer."


Choice. When Scion began, it didn't have much competition for small, cheap, urban commuter cars. BMW's Mini was still getting a foothold, and Smart hadn't yet come to the USA. Now, a raft of small, edgy vehicles are aiming for the same youth market — Ford's Fiesta subcompact, Kia's Soul crossover and others.

Scion can't even leverage its previous advantage of being more Web-savvy than the competition. "Every company is on Facebook," Peacock says. "It makes it more of a challenge to stay ahead."

Looking ahead

If Scion is going to stage a comeback, a redesigned tC is the place to start. The inexpensive sportster is Scion's biggest seller, making up about 40% of sales volume.

Priced starting at $18,275, the new 2011 tC has a bigger engine that pumps out 180 horsepower, 19 more than the 2010 model it replaces. Yet, it gets slightly better gas mileage.

But it's the styling changes that Scion executives tout most. The sporty model has more aggressive looks designed to appeal to young men. Walking around the car in a San Diego garage for a recent press preview, product planning manager Thomas Crahan pointed to the headlights, which he described as looking like "cunning eyes," and a side profile meant to emulate an auto racing helmet.

Crahan says Scion wanted the car to feel like "a middle-weight boxer in a Sean John suit," referring to the clothing line from taste-making entertainer Diddy. No wimps allowed. The new tC says, "I'm here. Get out of my way," Crahan says.

Next will come the iQ, a little car that wowed the 2009 New York International Auto Show when it was lowered from the ceiling in a blaze of music and lights. While appearing like the stubby Smart, it's actually larger, with a back seat that can fit at least one more adult.

Though Smart Fortwo sales now are dragging in the U.S., Crahan says the iQ will succeed because it performs better.

Market mania

Scion's vehicles will change, but one thing that hasn't is the marketing formula. The brand sponsors gallery openings for underground artists and helps plug up-and-coming pop music acts. It hypes its cars online, where buyers can design their own with lots of high-value options. The brand, Hollis says, has to remain "authentic."

That's a quality that seems to appeal to Scion owners gathered Saturday for "Scion Reconnect" at Cabe Toyota Scion in Long Beach, Calif., just the kind of ethnically mixed, youthful community that should make it the perfect target area for the brand.

Though the lot was crowded with tricked-out versions of the original xB, Shawna Enders, 21, of Bellflower, Calif., came in her new-generation 2009 xB. She says she loves it because the baby carrier fits perfectly in the back seat and her Great Dane, Bentley, goes in the rear. Plus, she says, "it looks great."

Others would beg to differ.

"The original xB is still the hottest car," said Nilo Miranda, 42, of Anaheim Hills, Calif. His is tricked out in an olive-drab vinyl wrap. "Scion is trying to get back to the original concept."

Miranda says he knows the brand is on the mend because he says he's gotten sneak peeks of some of the models on the way. And, he adds, they are edgy and cool.

Likewise, original xB owner Sixt is optimistic, as well. Though he misses the quirks that made the Scion tops for the cool factor, he says, "I think they are going to get it back with the new models."
I totally agree...the first xB was quirky enough that it worked beautifully for our market.

This is partially why Scion is hurting:
Scion listens to the "potential" customers rather than their core and repeat customers that actually enjoyed the brand when it first came out.
Focus groups are usually filled with idiots. Toyota seems to be listening to A LOT of them.
 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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^^I agree. Focus groups as we have seen (not just Toyota but a lot of other car makers) suck! You have one generation of a car that was a hit or even cult classic then the next gen tanks! Yes its always a balance keeping the current customers and getting new ones.

In Scion's case they are supposed to be a focused and niche' brand. So they need to stop being like Toyota. Which strives to be everything to everyone. Focus groups don't know about cars or care. All they want is an extra cup holder, more safety this and that and electronics. Not saying that's bad but when you have a focused sports car or car brand you want to stay the course. Obviously evolve over time but not turn out bloated cars like Toyota. You need to be quirky and different, whatever that may be. As we suggested, get some JDM kei cars or something like that over here or a variation of it. I think with the massive growth and focus on that Scion was put on the back burner, hence the long wait for the new tC. The xB needs to go back to its roots. Maybe not the same size but not as bloated as the current. The iQ should just replace the xD. I thought it was funny they called the xD a sedan. Worst ever. Its a hatch! Although I do like the gauges in the xD. Pretty cool IMO.

Scion shouldn't grow with the crowd. Its meant to be a gateway brand. So a generation starts with it then moves on to Toyota (in theory) and of course Lexus later on. Don't keep growing with the original crowd. Don't completely abandon them but don't start to blend in and become just another brand. Yes listen to the customers but look at the bigger picture.

Niche' is a hard thing to do. Especially if you have a volume carmaker trying to do that.
 

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http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/2010-10-07-scion06_CV_N.htm?loc=interstitialskipFocus groups are usually filled with idiots. Toyota seems to be listening to A LOT of them.
Design by focus groups...this is going to go well. Anybody remember Microsoft's first XBox? Biggest flaw it had was a gigantic monster of a controller that even bears found too big and cumbersome. The reason why Microsoft made it this way was the focus group thought they'd get more value for their money by having it that big. In the real world, people who wanted to play with a North American XBox imported the smaller controllers from Japan. I think since then Microsoft stopped using focus groups to at least make a controller realizing that if it failed for Atari(yes the focus groups liked lots of buttons) so often its not going to work in the future.

In the automotive world, we probably don't hear a lot about focus groups as they're likely hidden from any sort of news. The latest I remember reading about focus groups doing anything for cars was the Honda Crosstour's failed facebook promotion. Honda enthusiasts obviously think the Euro Accord wagon is the best solution and I think we all agree the Euro Accord wagon looks great versus the awful Crosstour which is still hideous. Honda's official counter this negative backlash from its facebook fans said the focus group liked it. From that I guess their focus group loved the hideous Acura bird beak as well.

Styling by focus group has failed already. I'm not sure why Toyota even wants to invest in focus groups to save a flailing brand. I'd rather Toyota reach out to enthusiasts, at least enthusiasts have the brand's interests in mind for positive criticism. Whereas focus groups...don't really have that in mind. For all we know someone in the focus group might have wanted an xB to actually have a toaster because the car looked like one.
 

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Vivir el momento
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Styling by focus group has failed already. I'm not sure why Toyota even wants to invest in focus groups to save a flailing brand. I'd rather Toyota reach out to enthusiasts, at least enthusiasts have the brand's interests in mind for positive criticism. Whereas focus groups...don't really have that in mind. For all we know someone in the focus group might have wanted an xB to actually have a toaster because the car looked like one.
You bring up a good point.

Focus groups are only as good as the recruiters make them out to be in the selection process. If the recruiters aren't in tune with the brands wants and don't understand their target market, then they're paying out big bucks for something that's essentially useless. A smart recruiter who knows this can and will often pick out the enthusiasts that they really seek. Alas, it's easier said than done, which is why Toyota is having a hard time "getting it" with a brand that's supposed to be aimed at my subgroup of the demographic.
 

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Interesting. Didn't some members here complain the First Gen XB was too slow. Maybe Toyota was listening to people who wanted more power and more room
 

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Diehard Rams Fan
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Interesting. Didn't some members here complain the First Gen XB was too slow. Maybe Toyota was listening to people who wanted more power and more room
But with more power & room came more weight. :headbang:

I drove a new 2011 tC yesterday & I liked it a lot. I never drove a 1st gen so I have nothing to compare it too. The car was very nicely equipped for an MSRP of $18995 with a 6-speed manual. The 6 speed auto was $19995. I too loved the original xB more than the new one, although I would never buy one for myself. I really like the xD though like this one that is in my TSNW car club.

 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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^^Nice xD!!

I heard the previous tC is spongy handling and terrible shifter (manual).

So how is the current one? As far as the shifter and handling? Is it credible??? How is the responsiveness of the engine.
 

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Toyota Fanboy
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My, my; USA Today sure does spend a lot of time hating on Toyota.
 
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Save The Manuals
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I liked the previous gen xB much better than the current gen. The previous gen was funky, and boxy, and you could say it turned heads when it hit the market. The current one is boring, bigger, and doesn't seem as fun. The xD and xB look pretty similar. But I like the name xD better. Reminds me of the emoticon. :lol:
 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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Now that the FT-86 is going to be a Scion, I guess they do have a legit chance at being cool again.


I saw this and was like WTF?? They said it will be price at 25k. While not too bad I think its pricey for a Scion. That should be the ceiling not a starting price. I think it will be DOA cause its a Scion. Scion isn't about cars that pricey. Maybe its for the people who moved on from the lower end models to a higher end one?

BUt what about Toyota? They need sports car. Unless they are saving that for a Supra replacement (in principle). This sucks. Oh well.
 

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ALSO AVAILABLE IN SOBER
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WOW. The first xB might have been cool but it was slower than a herd of pot smoking turtles. My 09 xB was a ton better with the 2.4... almost sporty even. Toyota should look into what Honda has done with their 2.4. My 2010 Accord EX runs circles around the xB.

Improved product design and proper marketing can make Scion profitable (which, let's be honest, is their REAL goal here). I'm not too sure they are worried about cool. Most people who live life worried about "cool" don't have a bunch of cash... and they aren't cruising down to the new car store so spend 20 grand plus.

Just my take.
 

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I saw this and was like WTF?? They said it will be price at 25k. While not too bad I think its pricey for a Scion. That should be the ceiling not a starting price. I think it will be DOA cause its a Scion. Scion isn't about cars that pricey. Maybe its for the people who moved on from the lower end models to a higher end one?

BUt what about Toyota? They need sports car. Unless they are saving that for a Supra replacement (in principle). This sucks. Oh well.
There goes hopes of me buying one. Scion doesn't deal at all do they? I refuse to buy a car at sticker. That is probably part of Scion's issue. Worked in the 90s for Saturn, but then again where is Saturn now...

It also could loose sales to the tC despite them being two different vehicles really
 

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CRESSIDA!!!
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The FT86 being a Scion is a HUGE deal breaker for many of the faithful in buying this car. As trival as it may sound to you, there was A LOT of hope that this car would be sold under the Toyota lineup. There are many people that won't own a Scion because of the image associated with it and not every Toyota dealer is a Scion store. If you don't have a Scion store near you, you're shit out of luck.

I for one would be hugely disappointed if this came to pass. It really needs to be in the Toyota lineup. Scion just got the new tC and iQ.
 

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Diehard Rams Fan
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^^Nice xD!!

I heard the previous tC is spongy handling and terrible shifter (manual).

So how is the current one? As far as the shifter and handling? Is it credible??? How is the responsiveness of the engine.
Excellent clutch & engine. The 6-speed manual was super smooth & I would highly recommend it. :thumbsup: I didn't drive the 6-speed automatic.
 

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The FT86 being a Scion is a HUGE deal breaker for many of the faithful in buying this car. As trival as it may sound to you, there was A LOT of hope that this car would be sold under the Toyota lineup. There are many people that won't own a Scion because of the image associated with it and not every Toyota dealer is a Scion store. If you don't have a Scion store near you, you're shit out of luck.

I for one would be hugely disappointed if this came to pass. It really needs to be in the Toyota lineup. Scion just got the new tC and iQ.
Hmm, I don't agree. Look at where Toyota is going with their lineup - they want to appear greener everyday (despite having the Tundra and other things). Lexus seems to be the jack of all trades getting both performance, luxury, and hybrids. Scion has ... aftermarket support?

It'd actually make more sense for it to be a Scion, since they can decontent it for people who like to customize their cars. This could make the base price cheaper, possibly. Besides, Scion needs something to carry the torch as they participate in Formula Drift with the tC. That could be replaced with the FT-86.

If it were under the Toyota brand, it'd likely be racing in NASCAR ... :disappoin

The Toyota brand seems targeted more towards the mature/aging crowd or ones with families. Scion is meant as an entry point to the Toyota brand. It doesn't have to mean it's the lower echelon of the brands.
 

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Need For Speed
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Still, though, a car that price under the Scion nameplate? Obviously people looking into the car will be around my age (early 20's), but most of them don't have that kind of money ($25k entry price). I only do because my priority is money for my toys and I have a 2nd income (I'm married).

I absolutely hate subarus but I think I'll pick the Subie version over the Scion version. AWD and a turbo? Sign me up.
 

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Newbie One Kanobi
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Still, though, a car that price under the Scion nameplate? Obviously people looking into the car will be around my age (early 20's), but most of them don't have that kind of money ($25k entry price). I only do because my priority is money for my toys and I have a 2nd income (I'm married).

I absolutely hate subarus but I think I'll pick the Subie version over the Scion version. AWD and a turbo? Sign me up.
The WRX and STi have that. Why get the Subaru version wouldn't it be the same?? I'm wondering to avoid redundancy is to have it RWD which I know goes against the Subaru philosophy. :thumbsup:
 

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Scion doesn't deal at all do they? I refuse to buy a car at sticker. That is probably part of Scion's issue. Worked in the 90s for Saturn, but then again where is Saturn now...
Saturn is gone because they started getting to involved in higher priced cars. Saturn was brought out as an inexpensive brand that you didn't need to price negotiate for because they were already cheap. As time marched on, GM lost site of that and now saturn is gone because it became direct competition for more expensive cars, not because of the no-haggle pricing.

Had they kept the business model of cheap, decent cars(esspecially in this economical climate), they might REALLY be doing well.
 
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