Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Future Scion Product: Subaru Tribeca Rebadge?


According to industry publication Automotive News, Japanese magazine New Model Magazine X recently showed a spy photo of a camouflaged vehicle that had Subaru Tribeca-like proportions and dimensions with what looked like a Scion badge on the grille. The magazine went on to speculate that Toyota would rebadge a Tribeca as a Scion to sell in the US.

Toyota has made a point of denying that it plans any additional models for the Scion brand, and sales have climbed steadily for the past several years (up 10.6% during 2006). But with Toyota owning 8.6% of Subaru's parent company, Fuji Heavy Industries - and Tribeca sales not meeting expectations in its first two years on the market (only selling 18,614 units in 2006) - anything might be possible.

My question is - how exactly would a rebadged Tribeca fit in with the rest of the Scion lineup? Scions generally come from the factory with only two different variables: manual or automatic transmission, and color. The rest of the equipment - appearance, comfort, or performance - is installed by the dealer or the owner. The most expensive 2008 Scion will be the tC coupe, at $17,580 (including destination), while a 2008 Tribeca starts at $30,620 (including destination), or 74% more money. The value proposition just seems very different between the Tribeca - arguably Subaru's flagship - and Scion. Not only that, but Toyota has taken a lot of criticism for the way the 2008 xB has grown in size, weight, and power - but seen its fuel economy decline in an environment of high gas prices. Do they really want to hear about a six cylinder, seven seat crossover from the Scion faithful?

Frankly, I don't see this happening, but if it did, it would be another fascinating case study to see how Toyota manages the marketing message, pricing, and styling of a Scion-ized Tribeca.

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