Scion sales are down, brand image in flux

Click above for a high-res gallery of the 2008 Scion xB.

My older brother Brian drives a Scion xD. He's 39 years old, and probably considered anything but cool by 18-24 year-old standards. He bought his little xD because he was tired of filling up his AWD 2001 Chevy Astro conversion van, and he's gone from getting 12 mpg to about 30. While that's a big-time win for Scion sales, the brand's marketing arm has to cringe. Scion was built to be Toyota's youth-oriented brand, with cars that would finally bring younger buyers into the Toyota showroom. The early days of Scion were a boon, with 80% of Scion buyers having never shopped Toyota before. Young people were clamoring for the xB and tC, and 100-200k online shoppers flocked to the Scion site each month.

Only a year after the redesign of the xB and xD, the Scion site is seeing less than half the traffic. Overall, year over year sales fell for 17 strait months until March, when gas prices skyrocketed. Even then, sales were back down by June, which was the peak of high fuel prices. The problems began to surface when the redesigned Scions were little more than larger versions of their former selves. A larger xB became more attractive to the mother of two, while losing some of the edginess that made it a smash hit with teens and early-20-somethings.

Scion's leadership would like to turn the tide by creating a fourth member of the Scion family that exudes cool for under $20k. It could be an SUV or a hybrid, but Scion execs want it to be free from the grasps of the parent company. The current models also have to be refocused to once again attract the coveted 18-30 crowd. That's a tall order, and a lot of work for a brand that's only five years old.

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[Source: Automotive News - Sub. Req.]

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