RIP, Scion iQ: Which Of The Other Scion Models Will Survive?

January 20, 2015

After a brief and not-so-illustrious run, the Scion iQ is motoring off to that great car lot in the sky. As our colleagues at Green Car Reports have noted, the itsy bitsy iQ is being pulled from the American market after selling just 2,040 units in 2014.

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That's a far cry from Scion's rosy initial predictions. Before the iQ debuted in the U.S. in 2011, company bigwigs projected sales of up to 2,000 units per month. Alas, the iQ never came remotely close to meeting that goal, topping out 8,879 units in 2012.

As we see it, the iQ suffered from three major problems:

1. It's a microcar, a sort of vehicle that's never really captured the imagination of U.S. consumers. With America's wide streets, two-car garages, and sprawling shopping complexes, we like bigger vehicles with plenty of room for schlepping. Tiny rides like the iQ make us nervous.

2. Gas prices are low. When fuel prices are high, U.S. shoppers at least feign an interest in small cars. When they're low, though, subcompacts start gathering dust -- lots of it. With gas now hovering below $2 a gallon and no signs of a sharp increase in the immediate future, cars like the iQ are at the bottom of many motorists' wish lists. (And even if fuel were expensive, at 36 mpg city/37 mpg highway, there are plenty of other gas-sippers to choose besides the iQ.)

3. It's a Scion. When Scion launched in the U.S. in 2003, it was an edgy, fun auto brand -- one that offered affordable rides that consumers could customize to their heart's content. Apart from the iQ and the relatively small-volume FR-S, though, Toyota hasn't substantially enlarged the Scion lineup. Today, the brand feels somewhat dated, which certainly doesn't help sell vehicles -- least of all, tough sells like the iQ. 

The upside is that with the iQ gone, there will be more room for a handful of new Scion models in showrooms. One of those is the Scion iM five-door hatchback, and another will be a four-door subcompact sedan based on the Toyota Yaris.

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Scion says that the iQ will be the only model eliminated from the current lineup, but we have to wonder if there won't be one or two more casualties. Surely the FR-S will stick around, as will the sporty tC. The boxy xB has a devoted fan base, but will the five-door xD hatchback be able to hold its own against the iM? Sales of the xD slipped to 7,377 units last year -- roughly a quarter of its 2008 high of 27,665 units. Makes you wonder, no?

If you're a fan of microcars and you're looking for a new ride, you can still get your hands on the Scion iQ -- at least for the time being. Don't expect it to hang around for long, though.


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