Is Having The BRZ In Subaru’s Lineup A Waste Of Time?

When you think of Subaru you probably picture a Forester or Outback navigating through the woods on a dirt road, or a WRX STI racing on a rally circuit. AWD is it’s specialty, the ability that allows drivers to get from point A to point B throughout the winter, and give the owner a peace of mind when they get behind the wheel in treacherous driving situations. Subaru has never been known to appeal to the RWD, sports car community, and instead reaches the consumer who wants off-road capability or a vehicle that is immune to most, if not all weather conditions. The Subaru BRZ does not fit that mold and never will.

Last year Subaru managed to sell 7,500 BRZ’s, and during the best monthly sales, none of the figures reached 1,000 cars sold. Because Scion, Toyota, and Subaru collaborated on the BRZ/FR-S, Subaru isn’t taking a major risk, or one in which they’re not going to deal with the consequences of poor sales solely. Two other manufactures are also on the ship that appears to be sinking. The real question is whether Subaru is wasting their time with having the BRZ in their lineup.

Starting at $25,500, the BRZ is just a mere $1,000 cheaper than the base version of the WRX. They’re two completely different cars, but one offers more horsepower, AWD, four doors, and tradition, while the other is basically a rebadged Toyota. In the eyes of consumers the WRX’s 268 hp, coupled with a manual transmission, is more appealing than a 200 hp coupe. While they both are in different classes, the WRX will steal sales away from the BRZ because it offers more.

For Scion, the FR-S makes sense because they don’t have another sports car in their lineup that will compete in sales. The tC is cheaper with less horsepower, while the FR-S is more of a traditional performance coupe that attracts younger consumers who want a car with power. For the Toyota owned company, the FR-S isn’t as big of a waste of time, and in fact is seeing double the sales as the BRZ, and that’s because of the consumers that Scion attracts.

At the end of the day, there is no difference between the BRZ and FR-S except the badge on the front. The biggest variable however is the loyal consumers for both auto brands. Subaru is seeing limited sales, and from a numbers standpoint, they’re wasting their time by selling a coupe. Due to having a sports sedan within the same price range, the BRZ isn’t a great fit for the company. Scion on the other hand desperately needs the FR-S to succeed, and because of their minimal lineup range, the sports coupe can and will see better sales figures than it will for Subaru.

The BRZ was an experiment, one in which Subaru could see if they could make some noise in the sports coupe market. Because they have a tradition set on AWD and off-road capability, consumers aren’t flocking to Subaru dealerships to buy a RWD coupe that doesn’t fit in the AWD dominated lineup. Sales figures could rise, but it’s very unlikely. The remaining question is, how long will they keep the BRZ in their lineup before they cut their losses and move on?

What is Scion’s Identity? Do They Even Have One?

This week at the New York International Auto Show, Scion unveiled their all new iA sedan and iM hatchback that will be going on sale at the end of 2015. Scion, which is owned by Toyota, really has only one car that they can truly call they own, the tC, while the rest of their lineup is either rebadged Toyota’s that are sold in Europe and Asia, or they have cars that aren’t even built by their parent company. The FR-S was a collaboration by Toyota and Subaru, and can be bought as a Subaru, the BRZ.

What is Scion? Were they originally Toyota’s cheap brand that sold to younger consumers, or are they now a combination of cheaper vehicles and a lab rat for other car companies to see what they could come with without putting their badge on the car? The iA is essentially the new Mazda 2 sedan, and was also a collaboration with Toyota by Mazda. The iM is a rebadged Toyota Auris and will be what takes the place of the Toyota Matrix, and will give Scion the opportunity to try increasing sales in the hatchback market. Both cars will be starting anywhere between $16,000 – $20,000 when they hit the market, and with a very lackluster group of vehicles that are currently within that price range, the iA and iM could see some strong sales.

The biggest issue facing Scion is that their sales figures aren’t as strong as they were back in 2005. Scion was the new kid on the block offering cheaper cars for younger drivers, but today, the tC and FR-S are the only Scions that younger consumers want to get behind the wheel of, and when it comes to the FR-S, they can choose to visit a Subaru dealer instead.

Out of the two, the iM has a better chance of succeeding than the iA. While great fuel economy and cheaper starting price for the iA might go a long way in helping consumers decide whether to buy the car or not, the iM being a hatchback, might be more appealing to younger consumers.

Toyota has a lineup consisting of cars that compete with Honda, Ford, and Chevrolet, while their luxury division, Lexus, is taking on BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, and Infiniti. It would be great if Scion became both cheap for younger consumers, while being the performance division for Toyota. The tC and FR-S are good starts, but if Toyota could offer a Celica (which in essence is the tC) MR-2 or some original sports car badged as a Scion, the perception of the brand would change completely overnight. Right now it seems like Scion is everyone’s ginny pig, and that’s what is confusing consumers. The Toyota owned company is now 13 years old, it’s time to start maturing and offering original cars that aren’t rebadged by other Japanese brands or Toyota itself.