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CHICAGO – The aftermarket supercharger Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.’s Scion brand introduced in fall 2005 for its tC sports coupe is too expensive for many of the brands owners, an executive says.

Mark Templin, vice president-Scion, admits the take rate for the supercharger hasn’t been as high as originally hoped, mostly due to its $3,200 price tag, not including installation.

The tC bases at $16,980 for a manual-equipped model (the supercharger is compatible only with manual tCs).

Although 50% of Scion owners accessorize their vehicle to some extent, Templin says the supercharger, which takes the tC’s 2.4L 4-cyl. engine from 160 hp to nearly 200 hp, taxes many of Scion’s young buyers’ budgets.

“We can’t sell it as a new product, so it’s sold only after the sale, which is challenging for young consumers,” Templin tells Ward’s in an interview here during the auto show.

“You stretch to buy a car, and then you have to come back and spend that money separately (because) you can’t finance it with the car,” he says. “I think we didn’t anticipate that at the launch.”

Nevertheless, those who have purchased the supercharger like it, Templin says. “The enthusiasts and the tuner crowds are eating it up.”

The lower-than-expected take rate for the component hasn’t deterred Scion from offering the supercharger for the new xB, which shares the tC’s 2.4L mill. The new ’08 Scion xB goes on sale this April.

Templin won’t say whether he sees the xB pulling in front of the tC in sales this year.

When the Scion brand first launched nationally in 2004, expectations were the xB cross/utility vehicle would be the brand’s No.1 seller. But the tC pulled ahead almost immediately and has remained the top-seller in the 3-model lineup, delivering 79,125 units in the U.S. in 2006 vs. xB’s 61,306 and the xA’s 32,603.

Templin is unmoved by the recent year-on-year drop in tC sales. Deliveries of the coupe have fallen for four months running, Ward’s data shows, with January’s 4,413 units 11.9% behind year-ago.

“Traditional winter seasonality” is to blame for any falloff with the tC, he says, adding, “If you look at last year’s cycle and this year’s cycle, they pretty much match each other.”

Scion will be doing a minor tC model change for ’08 before its full revision, expected for the ’10 model year, according to Ward’s data.

For ’08, the tC gets new a new front fascia, with new projector-type headlights trimmed in black, as well as a new grille that more closely matches those of the new xB and xD. Taillights are similar to the headlights, with round combination lamps.

iPod connectivity is standard for all ’08 Scions, as well as a 160-watt Pioneer audio system and rear-head unit outputs, so that drivers wishing to maximize their speaker output can add external amplifiers.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com