Toyota mulls positioning Scion as an entry-luxury brand

Article by Anita Panait, on April 2, 2013

Toyota is considering positioning Scion upscale as an entry-luxury brand. Toyota is thinking about placing Scion against a number of new models like the Mercedes-Benz CLA due this fall and the Audi A3 sedan unveiled on the eve of the New York auto show. Jim Lentz, chief executive of Toyota's North America Region, remarked that “everybody is looking at what direction Scion should go."

He said that they have a “real hard look” on the future of the auto industry strategically and where they want Scion to be positioned. Toyota may position Scion to take on the heating up rivalry in the premium segment, as typified by the Mercedes CLA that will have a starting price of under $30,000, not including shipping. 

The Toyota brand currently carries 18 nameplates, making it too heavy to compete both in the volume market and in the entry luxury melee. With Lexuses refusing to go under the $30,000 price point, the Scion could be the best brand to meet the luxury challenge.

Lentz noted that there is a cost to providing outstanding Lexus customer service, and having Lexus compete in the entry-luxury segment may have the brand lose that level of quality service and this may cheapen its cars.

Although Toyota has yet to decide on Scion's future, Scion Vice President Doug Murtha remarked that if the brand “stands still,” it might be in trouble.

Lentz remarked that when executives at Toyota talked strategy at Scion’s birth, they were split on whether it should be a Korea-fighter or an entry-luxury brand.

He said that they were split at what direction to go as they could go for any of those two. Lentz cautioned that the idea of positioning Scion upscale "is not a widely held view in the company."

Once again, Mercedes-Benz is out to prove that it is one of the top premium car manufacturers in world with the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class. Expected to create a new segment, the new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class four-door coupé follows the formula of the Mercedes-Benz CLS, which has an avant-garde design concept that has managed to grab the attention of rival carmakers.

As standard, this new Mercedes CLA-Class is fitted with Collision Prevention Assist, a radar-based braking system that could provide warnings of an obstacle, prepares adaptive Brake Assist system and then set off precision braking as soon as the brake pedal is pressed. The warnings come in the form of visual and acoustic alerts. When this radar-based assistance system senses that a collision is impending, it would compute the ideal precise braking force necessary to prevent an accident and then makes the best possible use of the remaining distance.

This Collision Prevention Assist system provides protection from rear-end collisions in hazardous traffic situations from speeds of only 7 km/h. According to Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, there was an overwhelming reaction for the Concept Style Coupé, with people begging the German premium carmaker to put it into series production.

He remarked that in response, Mercedes is now introducing the CLA, which he described as a car that doesn’t compromise mid-range with mediocrity. He added that the CLA boasts of a powerful design that highlights the sporty side of the Benz brand. Interestingly, its BlueEFFICIENCY Edition boasts of world-class aerodynamics, with a coefficient of drag (Cd) of 0.22. The new Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class could be availed with high-torque turbo engines that could provide 155 kW (211 hp) of max output, 4MATIC all-wheel drive and sports suspension.

Topics: toyota, scion

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