Toyota seeks to avoid midlife crisis for youthful Scion brand

Wed Apr 3, 2013 3:20pm EDT
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* Toyota execs mull repositioning of 10-year-old brand

* One option: reinvention as a premium small car brand

* Scion also looks at hybrid, crossover, 4-door sedan

* Brand's 2012 sales were less than half its 2006 peak

By Ben Klayman

DETROIT, April 3 (Reuters) - Toyota Motor Corp executives are weighing repositioning Scion as a line of premium small cars as they debate the youth brand's future in the United States.

A decade after its launch as a way to lure younger buyers into Toyota showrooms, Scion is still a work in progress as it looks to rebound from low sales during the recession. The brand is a relatively small seller for Toyota, with its five models selling 73,500 vehicles last year. That compares with Toyota's four-car Prius line, which sold almost 237,000.

The Japanese automaker's top executives concede that Scion is at a crossroads of sorts.

"There's still debate on where we should go from here," Jim Lentz, Toyota's newly appointed chief executive of North America, told Reuters in a recent interview.   Continued...