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With two out of a planned three new Scion models revealed at the New York Auto Show, we sat down with brand boss Doug Murtha to discuss what’s coming next for Toyota’s youth-focused brand.
The latest rejuvenation for Scion, the current plan doesn’t stray from the brand’s origins.
Murtha, Scion group vice president, explains how partnerships with other automakers, as well as sharing within the larger Toyota lineup has long been a part of the product strategy. “It’s pretty much been the case since Scion’s launch,” he said, pointing to the xA, xB and even the recently axed iQ.
He wouldn’t clarify just what’s coming next but did drop a significant hint, stating that the new model, “falls more into the iM model,” and, “is a product that will be sold in other markets that will be sold in the US as a Scion, as opposed to bringing it as a Toyota.”
Based on Toyota’s current global product list, the options aren’t plentiful with cars like the Etios, Aygo and Verso as possible candidates.
With the removal of the iQ from Scion’s lineup, the Aygo could replace it as a new city car option. In Europe it’s available with either a 1.3-liter or a 1.0-liter 3-cylinder engine making 68 hp. It also costs just 6,800 British Pounds (roughly $12,800).
“That has always been our sourcing model to look for products in other global markets that we might not bring in as a Toyota but that we might bring in under the Scion brand,” said Murtha, commenting that there’s more to Scion than just brand-engineered models. “We don’t want to become Geo, where were basically selling cars that are either wholly built by someone else or only through partnerships,” he said. “As long as they meet the basic requirements we have as a brand we’re fine with that as a source for new product.”
No Scion Crossovers
“I’m open to any and all body type categories,” said Murtha, “as long as it meets the basic requirements and interests of our target customer.” Right now, that doesn’t include small SUVs.
“I’m open to a crossover, but as I look at crossovers in the market there’s a lot I wouldn’t want because I think they’d they’d work better with a Toyota badge on their hood than a Scion badge. Like it or not, SUVs still come with a little bit of that family-esque stigma … and I don’t think that’s what the majority of our customers are looking to project about themselves.”
Murtha also indicated that it won’t be a hybrid. While a car like the Prius c would seem to fit the bill, he says the data so far has shown buyers of the ultra-efficient city car actually tend to be older than those of the conventional Prius liftback, despite the lower price.
As for the rest of the Scion lineup, Murtha confirmed that the xB and tC will live on for a while longer with, “No immediate plans for their sunsetting or replacement.” As for the FR-S, Toyota is currently in talks with Subaru on a second-generation model with a refreshed version due out soon.