Toyota Trims Scion Coupe Outlook on Young Men's Jobs

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s largest automaker, trimmed its expectations for sales of the new Scion tC coupes after the recession doubled unemployment among young men who are the main buyers of the car.

Toyota expects to sell 35,000 to 45,000 tC coupes in the U.S. next year as it tries to revive sales of the youth-oriented brand, Jack Hollis, vice president of Scion, said at a media briefing today in Auburn Hills, Michigan. In March, he said Toyota expected to sell 40,000 to 50,000 tCs a year.

While Hollis said today he didn’t remember the old target being higher, he said expected tC sales may grow faster than the rest of the industry when more jobs are created. The median age of a tC buyer is 26, he said. Unemployment was 10.4 percent among men age 25 to 34 last month and 17.3 percent among those age 20 to 24, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“When you look at the industry forecasts, the market doesn’t seem to be recovering,” he said in an interview. “The recession is keeping us with a slightly more conservative forecast.”

The redesigned tC goes on sale Oct. 1 with a starting price of $18,275 with a manual transmission and $19,275 with an automatic, he said.

Toyota dealers in the U.S. sold 18,000 of the coupes last year, down 56 percent from 41,000 in 2008. Total sales of Scion’s three models fell 49 percent to 58,000, according to researcher Autodata Corp., based in Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey.

Toyota created the brand in 2003 to appeal to drivers younger than its core baby-boom generation customers.

Fourth Model

A fourth model, the iQ, reaches the market in March, with a lower price that hasn’t yet been disclosed. Hollis said he expects to sell 20,000 to 25,000 of the minicars next year, which he characterized as a “very conservative” estimate, reflecting the slow growth of the overall car market.

Toyota has said the iQ will be the basis for an electric model in 2012. The Toyota City, Japan-based company that also makes the Lexus luxury line showed an electric concept car called the FT-EV at the Detroit auto show in January 2009.

Toyota’s total U.S. sales have slipped 0.5 percent this year, after plunging 20 percent in 2009.

Toyota’s American depositary receipts rose $1.42, or 2 percent, to $71.22 at 4:15 p.m. in New York Stock Exchange composite trading. The ADRs have fallen 15 percent this year. Shares of Toyota and other Japanese companies rose after the government intervened to weaken the yen for the first time since 2004.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mark Clothier in Auburn Hills, Michigan, at mclothier@bloomberg.net.

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