Scion to spice up lineup with new iA, iM subcompacts

Michael Martinez
The Detroit News

Toyota Motor Co.’s Scion brand hopes its two new vehicles launching September 1 — the iA subcompact sedan and iM subcompact hatchback — will inject new life into a stagnant brand aimed at young drivers through their early 30s.

2016 Scion iA

Scion was launched in 2003 to cater to those ages 18-34 and had its best sales year in 2006 when it sold 173,000 vehicles. But its sales have waned in recent years (about 58,000 in 2014) as parent company Toyota hasn’t regularly invested in new products. Scion last introduced a new vehicle in 2012 when it launched its F-RS sports car.

But the addition of the iA and iM into the lineup that includes the F-RS and tC and xB compacts should spur a return to the 100,000 sales mark by 2017, said Doug Murtha, Scion Group Vice President.

“We think these two new vehicles align with the new values and priorities of today’s younger group,” Murtha told reporters Monday at a local preview event. “They have their own unique take on fun, while including that little something polarizing that’s always been part of the Scion lineup.”

The iA will compete with the Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Sonic, Hyundai Accent and Nissan Versa and is meant to be a more compelling-looking sedan that gets better gas mileage than its competitors. It features a standard 1.5-liter four-cylinder engine that gets 106 horsepower. With an automatic transmission it can get up to 42 miles per gallon on the highway.

2016 Scion iM

The five-seat sedan starts at $15,700 with a manual transmission and $16,800 with an automatic. Destination charges are an additional $795. Murtha expects to sell about 30,000-40,000 iAs per year. The car is part of a collaboration with Mazda and will be built in Mexico.

The iM is expected to compete with the Ford Focus, Mazda 3, Volkswagen Golf and Hyundai Elantra. It comes with a 1.8-liter four-cylinder that gets 137 horsepower. Equipped with an automatic transmission it can get up to 37 miles per gallon on the highway.

The iM with manual transmission will start at $18,460; with automatic transmission it starts at $19,200. Murtha hopes to sell about 20,000 iMs per year. It is being built in Japan.

Murtha said the brand is somewhat immune from the trend of customers moving from cars to utilities and trucks since Scion’s target customer is young and not as affluent, and still values fuel economy even with low gas prices. Still, he said he’s interested in adding a utility or crossover. The brand has promised to add three new vehicles over the next three years, but has offered no other details about the final new product.

“Are we challenged a bit now playing only in the passenger car side of the market? Sure,” he said. “Are we challenged by largely just having three-door products when consumers are getting more practical and pragmatic and wanting back doors and hatches and everything else? Absolutely. These products help address that but there are unserved markets when you have four vehicles in your lineup.”

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