Toyota Motor Corp., on a mission to rejuvenate its youth-oriented Scion brand, may replace its boxy xB subcompact with a version of Europe's Toyota Auris, new images suggest.
The images, which Toyota released last week on the social media site Instagram, show the front fascia and wheels of a concept called the iM. Toyota said it will unveil the concept, which "reflects the evolution of Scion," next month at the Los Angeles Auto Show.
Eagle-eyed analysts quickly concluded that the concept is a variation on the Auris, a five-door hatchback and wagon based on the Toyota Corolla that is sold in markets such as Europe and Australia. The current generation is assembled in Japan and England and went on sale in late 2012.
The headlights on the iM concept are a "dead giveaway," Ed Kim, vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific, wrote in an email. "As a concept, it has show-car touches like flared fenders and unique fascias, but underneath the glitz is Scion's indirect xB successor."
Offering a successor to the aging xB, which hasn't been revamped since 2007, is crucial to reversing a years-long decline in Scion sales. Through September, Scion's U.S. sales are off 15 percent this year; sales of the xB are down 11 percent to 12,444.
Toyota has said it will replace three of Scion's five nameplates over a two-year span starting next year. In an interview this spring, Scion Vice President Doug Murtha said the first of the three replacement models would be shown at the Los Angeles show.
Toyota wouldn't say whether the iM is a variation on the Auris, but a spokeswoman said that such a move would be "pretty consistent with the Scion model. We take vehicles from other markets and bring them into the U.S."
Toyota also has a deal with Mazda to sell a car based on the next-generation Mazda2 subcompact. That version may serve as a successor to Scion's slow-selling iQ minicar.