George Bernard Shaw once famously opined that “Youth is wasted on the young." And while the Irish playwright and Nobel laureate’s wry observation may have any number of modern-day examples, the car market apparently isn’t one of them.
According to the Associated Press, baby boomers are cottoning on to models earmarked for Generation X and Y consumers with remakable rapidity. Scion xBs, Honda Elements, Chrysler PT Cruisers, and other youth-targeted vehicles are being filled not with off-road skateboards and pony kegs, but potting soil and antique rolltop desks.
But hey, a sale is a sale, right? Well, that’s the company line being spouted by many of the affected automakers, but one has to wonder if it doesn’t hurt a brand like Scion’s ‘street cred’ to see geriatrics rockin’ the (x)Box. Scion boasts the youngest average owner of any major manufacturer, but it’s still decidedly higher than the company had hoped for at 39 years-old. Honda’s funky Element charts even higher at age 43.
This all begs the question: is the creation of an entire new division (like Scion) with its attendant fiscal obligations (distinct infrastructure, R&D and marketing costs) worth the trouble? Certainly Scion has added to Toyota’s coffers, but would the money have been better spent adding new products to the Toyota brand, with its larger dealer network and lower cost structures?
I hesitate to say “I told you so,” but…
[Source: The Associated Press via AZCentral.com]