Scion: FR-S Convertible, Turbo Engine Not Happening
Scion FR-S rear-wheel-drive sports car.
LOS ANGELES – Ready your hankies, enthusiasts: the dream of a Scion FR-S convertible is dead.
Shooting down reports it is due as soon as this fall, theyouth brand says it was unable to make a case for the car with company higher-ups who saw too much investment needed for too little return.
“So on the convertible we went down swinging,” Doug Murtha, senior vice president-Scion, tells WardsAuto in an interview at the 2014 Los Angeles auto show.
But in the end, Scion couldn’t find enough other countries or regions withinthat also wanted a convertible, and could sell it in sufficient volumes “to make the thing pencil.
“I think we were pretty aggressive on our (submitted plan), but we looked at what we would have conceivably lost on the product and said, ‘We’re not going to even push it further,’” Murtha says. “Nobody was more disappointed than we were.”
Of a potential turbocharged version of the FR-S, which currently has just one engine, a naturally aspirated 200-hp 2.0L 4-cyl. boxer developed by Subaru makerHeavy Industries, Murtha says despite the “blogosphere” wanting it to happen, “that’s not something that’s coming,” without further comment.
The FR-S, sold overseas as the Toyota 86, was co-developed with, which assembles the FR-S, 86 and its own model, the Subaru BRZ, in Ohta, Japan. The FR-S and BRZ went on sale in the U.S. in spring 2012.
The joint development deal was an effort to keep costs down on the sports cars, a vehicle type which notoriously doesn’t “pencil” when it comes to the amount of money necessary to bring them to fruition and their typically weak profitability due to low sales.
Subaru has been cool on variants of the FR-S/86 and BRZ almost from the beginning because of the return-on-investment issue. Murtha told WardsAuto in January Toyota therefore had begun exploring the idea of developing and building variants on its own.
The phenomenon of sports car sales falling off halfway through the lifecycle already is occurring with the FR-S, Murtha admits.
Sales of the model were down 23.2% through October, to 12,293 units. BRZ deliveries also were off 6.3%, to 6,680.
It’s a trend Scion hoped to curtail with variants such as a convertible or turbocharged version, but now will need to make do with something else.
“You get 24 months out of those products and they tend to have a steep fall-off (and) we’re seeing a little bit of that,” he says. “I don’t think that’s necessarily a surprise. I think the challenge is back to us to do some interesting things that keep the vehicle fresh.”
For now, Scion is offering its Release Series trim level on the FR-S.
The Release Series 1.0 FR-S, of which just 1,500 will be built, begins at $30,760 and has a variety of TRD (Toyota Racing Development) parts, including a 3-piece spoiler, custom steering wheel and shift knob, and lowering springs.
T-fabric pattern sport seats, LED daytime running lights and smart key with push-button start also are standard.
Even though it will be a low-volume proposition, Murtha says dealers “have said having even one of those in the showroom brings attention back to the lineup.”