Scion is optimistic it can sell relatively high numbers of the sports car, because of its no-haggle pricing philosophy and large dealer network that provides good market coverage throughout the northern and southern U.S.
Scion VP Jack Hollis at November 2011 FR-S unveiling.
LAS VEGAS – The all-new Scion FR-S rear-drive sports car should sell at a rate of 10,000-20,000 units annually, a top official says.
“We’re confident we can sell every one we get our hands on,” Jack Hollis, Scion vice president, says at a media preview for the car here.
Scion projects it will sell more than 10,000 FR-S coupes during the remainder of 2012 and about 20,000 next year. The FR-S goes on sale at 1,000 U.S. Scion dealers June 1.
Scion’s sales target is bigger than Subaru’s, which has a goal of 5,000-7,000 annual sales for its nearly identical BRZ.
Subaru parentHeavy Industries led engineering on the BRZ and FR-S, and the FR-S’ overseas twin, the 86, while Toyota oversaw design. Subaru is building the vehicles at its Ohta, Japan, plant. BRZ and 86 assembly commenced March 16.
Hollis says Scion is optimistic the FR-S will sell at a higher volume than the BRZ, because of the passion within the company, Scion’s extensive dealer body and the lack of affordable, light, rear-wheel-drive sports cars on the market.
It doesn’t hurt thathas a heritage of rear-drive sports cars, including the Corolla AE86 model that inspired the 86/FR-S. Scion’s no-haggle pricing philosophy and large dealer network, with good coverage throughout the northern and southern U.S., also will help drive volume, Hollis believes.
Subaru has 620 U.S. dealers, with most of its sales traditionally concentrated in the Northeast, where its entirely all-wheel-drive lineup holds particular appeal.
“I think 10,000 for this first partial year is still pretty conservative, because the more that we can get, (the more) we will be able to sell beyond that,” Hollis says of the FR-S.
Scion holds 1,243 pre-sold orders and has attracted another 27,000 hand-raisers for the FR-S so far.
Toyota’s youth brand wants to stock more than one FR-S per dealer on June 1, but that doesn’t mean it is looking to flood the market with the halo model.
Scion’s philosophy has been to have “one too few vehicles in stock, (and with) this one there’ll be one too few,” Hollis says.
“We want to be able to have that demand on that car where people are waiting and they’re spending more time (thinking about) how they will personalize their car and have that passion.”
Scion will provide a healthy offering of accessories, including a Five Axis body kit Hollis has purchased for his own all-black FR-S.
To spark accessory activity at aftermarket firms, Scion held an FR-S measuring session last month for members of the Specialty Equipment Marketers Assn.
The FR-S begins at $24,200 for a 6-speed manual model, and $25,300 for a 6-speed automatic. The BRZ starts at $25,495 for in Premium trim and $27,495 for Limited-grade models. Opting for the 6-speed automatic adds $1,100. Both the FR-S and BRZ are powered by Subaru’s 2.0L Boxer H-4 engine, making 200 hp in the FR-S.
The Scion offers a Pioneer BeSpoke infotainment system that can send tweets via voice commands and provide turn-by-turn directions.
For now, Scion is not discussing variants, including a turbocharged version Subaru has hinted is in the works for the next-generation BRZ.
But Hollis says refreshes will be key to maintaining demand for the FR-S. Sports cars are notorious for selling in high volumes initially, then fading fast.
“We’re working with the chief engineer already on what else we might do in the minor changes that would be uniquely different, so that year 2.5 to three we have a different offering,” he says.
A limited-edition Release Series won’t come in the FR-S’ first year, however, Hollis says.
Scion expects FR-S buyers to skew to a higher percentage of males and boast a higher household income than its current brand demographic: 54% male/$55,000-$60,000 annual income.
FR-S owners also may be a bit older than typical Scion buyers. That’s OK with Hollis, but he says the brand is hoping to draw younger Americans, who now appear more interested in electronic gadgets than automobiles.
“The youth have gone into not driving…with iPhones and iPads and Skype-ing and chatting,” he says. “It’s not bad…it’s just that their intention has been taken off of driving. I don’t think it’s necessarily their fault. (As) auto makers, we need to do a better job of bringing some of the dynamic performance in a simple car.”