LAS VEGAS – Some 60% of Scion iQ buyers are new to Toyota, which a top Scion official here says is helping the brand keep to its original mandate.

“One of Scion’s main goals is to be a laboratory inside Toyota, a lab to attract new buyers,” Jack Hollis, vice president-Scion, says at a backgrounder here. “The iQ is fitting in well in the Scion family because it is (following that path).”

The iQ completed its national rollout with its Midwest market debut in March. That followed launches in the western U.S. in October and the Southeast and East earlier this year.

Scion sold 3,733 iQs from October-April, WardsAuto data shows.

While that’s not a hefty tally, Hollis says iQ sales through March ran 20% ahead of the brand’s launch plan. However, April sales for the tiny car, at 962 units, were off from March’s 1,285 and slightly less than Scion’s 1,000-unit monthly target.

The car’s fuel economy of 37 mpg (6.3 L/100 km) city/highway, touted as the best of any non-hybrid car in the U.S., and complimentary two years of free maintenance and three years of roadside assistance are driving early sales, as is the iQ’s “tremendous value without any sacrifice,” Hollis says.

Scion is a considering a number of proposals to put the iQ into car-sharing programs.

Hollis has met with executives of Zipcar, perhaps the most well-known car-sharing firm. But so far, “we have not found exactly what we want to do, what markets (to enter) and how (a partnership) might work to benefit Scion and Zipcar to the same levels,” he says.

Hollis calls car-sharing “intriguing” and notes Scion is exploring partnerships with other car-sharing companies as well. “There is a lot of opportunity.”

He says he wants to avoid any short-term trial programs, preferring to take a more committed first step into the car-sharing arena.

“It would be stupid to deny the fact that the youth are seeing car-sharing as valuable,” Hollis says.

In related news, the iQ electric vehicle remains set for a test-fleet launch later this year.

cschweinsberg@wardsauto.com