Toyota CEO Lentz still envisions Scion as a small premium brand
We'll walk right on by Lentz's use of the word "still" and focus on "small-premium" with the question: How? As much as we dig the FR-S, nothing in the brand's lineup can get within a whiff of the word "premium." It's even further away from being able to sniff the lifestyle-powered exhaust of a Mini or Fiat 500, and the production version of the forthcoming IM Concept (inset) will only draw it closer to its plain vanilla parent. Of course, Scion could head the premium way, but the amount of time and money needed to make it work would seem to go against everything the brand currently stands for.
The murk stays just as murky when Lentz's words are placed next to those of Scion brand VP Doug Murtha, who spoke to Ward's at a different time. Murtha's response to the "small-premium" note was, "He may be having discussions at levels I'm not," and that such intent is "probably a longer-term proposition than we're looking at right now," with planning under way out to 2025. We're already being prepared for the iM to come in under $20,000, which will ensure the "attainability factor" of the "younger audience" that Murtha still views as Scion's base. And at the moment, Murtha is probably focused on adding desirability to the current lineup, halting the 14-percent year-over-year sales slide to a point that's just over half the annual volume necessary for profitability, and making sure he and his dealers have the support necessary to make the required splash with new product.
Aside from all that, what might we expect? We know there'll be another product shown along with the production IM at the 2015 New York Auto Show, and Murtha isn't against a small crossover if they can come up with "something appropriately Scion-esque." So... there's that.
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