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North American Toyota sub-brand Scion is set to axe its iconic boxy compact, the Scion xB, sold in Australia as the Toyota Rukus.

Scion launched in 2003 with the aim of directly engaging Gen-Y consumers through trendy, edgy advertising and quirky cars like the xB, but after a nine-month brand review Toyota has decided to shift the goal posts… slightly.

Scion will continue with its less polarising xD small car and tC ‘touring coupe’, but says it will not directly replace the cuboid xB. Scion vice president Jack Hollis told industry journal Automotive News, “The first generation, we needed the box. The second generation, we still liked the box, but we started looking for things that would stand out like the box. No one is saying [the next one] has to be a box.”

Although some believe the move suggests Scion is shying away from its youth-dominated focus, the advertising campaigns for the new iQ that involving an iQ, girls in bikinis, donuts, police officers and bikers as well as a series about parking the iQ with the assistance of the handbrake would seem to go against this maturing way of thinking.

The other big player for the brand is the Scion FR-S, the brand’s version of the Toyota 86, and its campaign that sees 25-year-old American Formula Drift competitor Ken Gushi sliding the new coupe through corners would also appear to be aimed at a younger market.

According to Automotive News, Polk data shows that in 2007 the average age of Scion tC buyers was 43.5 years old compared with 2011’s 47. While the pattern is similar for xB and xD buyers it’s still lower than the 2011 average US Toyota Camry buyer at 60 years old.

Scion may have to strike a balance between youthful and more mature buyers in the US, but either way, the good news for Toyota Rukus fans in Australia is that the model will continue to be built in Japan and sold here for the foreseeable future.

Toyota sold 266 Rukuses in Australia in the first quarter of this year, down more than 15 per cent from the same period in 2011. Total 2011 sales reached 1183 units in what was the boxy hatch’s first full year on sale in Australia – well down on Toyota’s initial target of selling between 1800 and 2400 per year.




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