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April 1, 2010

US: New products to boost Scion sales

Toyota's Scion brand sold only in the US will rebound to sales close to 100,000 vehicles by 2011, vice president Jack Hollis said.

Toyota ‘s Scion brand sold only in the US will rebound to sales close to 100,000 vehicles by 2011, vice president Jack Hollis said.

Helping to boost sales in 2011 will be the introduction of a minicar – the model known elsewhere as the Toyota iQ – and an update of the six-year-old tC sports coupe, said Hollis . Both 2011 models were unveiled at the New York motor show and are the first product launches for Scion since 2007.

The new model is the iQ, which Scion describes as a “premium micro-subcompact.” The first-generation tC coupe went on sale in 2004. The US iQ will have a 90hp 1.3-litre, four-cylinder engine with dual VVT-i variable valve timing combined with a continuously variable transmission. The iQ will be rated as an Ultra Low Emission Vehicle (ULEV-II), and it is expected to achieve a combined fuel economy in the high 30s, comparable to similar vehicles that feature less passenger and cargo capacity.

The tC will launch in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the iQ in the first quarter of 2011, Hollis told Reuters , “so because of that we won’t see the full sales pace until probably about April next year.”

The new four-passenger minicar will increase Scion ‘s stable to four models.

In 2009, Scion ‘s US sales fell 49% to about 58,000, from about 114,000 in 2008.

Reuters noted that Hollis did not provide a forecast for Scion ‘s 2010 sales. In the first two months of 2010, it sold only 6,062 cars, down 20.5%. March sales figures to be released later on Thursday are expected to show gains for almost all automakers.

Toyota brand sales chief Bob Carter said Toyota sales will be up as much as 40% for March, compared with March 2009.

The five-passenger tC coupe’s sales fell 56% in 2009, to about 18,000 units, the sharpest drop among Scion models.

Hollis said 73% of Scion buyers are new customers for Toyota and some 60% of first-time Scion owners return to either Scion , Toyota or Lexus to buy their second new vehicle.

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