In a will-they-won’t-they more dramatic than Ted and Robin or Ross and Rachel or Tyrion and Cersei (there’s tension there, don’t act like you haven’t wondered) Toyota might decide to go on without Subaru and build a Scion FR-S convertible on its own. Subaru has said that there was no chance for a convertible built on the Subaru BRZ/ Scion FR-S chassis because of safety and performance concerns and since the engineering and construction of the cars is Subaru’s responsibility, the drop top looked dead . Now a Toyota exec is saying the Scion FR-S convertible might get a chance at life, engineered and manufactured by Toyota alone.
Doug Murtha, Scion vice president for North America, said that Toyota is considering moving forward with the Scion FR-S convertible without Subaru and has asked each region to estimate sales of the potential FR-S drop top.
Subaru had said in no uncertain terms that the Scion FR-S convertible prototypes shown to the public and to dealers were just design exercises that had no chance of production. The engineering that would go into maintaining the Subaru BRZ’s performance and safety with the removal of the roof would make the project too expensive for Subaru to undertake.
Murtha understands why Subaru wouldn’t want to purse a BRZ convertible:
“When you look at their global volume relative to our global volume, convert that to (their potential share of the convertible segment), and it’s probably more in Toyota’s interest to pursue a vehicle like that,” he told Ward’s Auto.
Fuji Heavy Industries (Subaru’s parent company) president Yasuyuki Yoshinaga said that a convertible version of the Subaru BRZ and Scion FR-S is not a possibility.
“We make the car, so if we don’t make it, it can’t happen,” Yoshinaga told Automotive News.”Our engineering department told me that losing the entire roof requires a complete redesign of the structure. It would need a big change.”
Toyota has been bullish on the FR-S convertible. In addition to teasing an FR-S to U.S. Dealers, Toyota showed off a new version of the FR-S convertible at the Tokyo Motor Show with an electric powered automatic top.
“I understand well that Toyota is receiving strong requests from the American market for the car,” Yoshinaga said. “But the biggest challenge is meeting our internal safety standards. There are big technical difficulties.”
The Scion FR-S Convertible concept car was revealed at the 2013 Geneva Motor Show in Switzerland. The Scion FR-S Open Concept – the official name of the FR-S convertible preproduction model – shows a very near production prototype of the convertible FR-S with a blue top and white paint. The Scion FR-S convertible concept was also shown at the 2013 national Toyota dealers meeting in Atlanta as an incentive for dealers to keep the Scion brand.
The future of the Scion FR-S convertible is uncertain. A dealer at the 2013 national dealers convention told Automotive News “They don’t show product they don’t plan on building,” but added that Subaru might still have veto power over the drop top FR-S and BRZ. There have also been concerns within Toyota that the FR-S convertible may require too high a price point to appeal to the intended customer.
The bad news if you’re eagerly anticipating the Scion FR-S convertible: Your local Toyota dealer may have dropped Scion by the time the FR-S convertible is on sale.
The good news is that Toyota showed off the FR-S convertible concept that originally debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March 2013 to the dealers in hopes of enticing them to stay the course. The FR-S Convertible is one of the two preproduction cars that Toyota showed off at the dealer meeting. The other was a competitor for the Nissan Juke.
Toyota is hoping to drop some of the 1,000 current Scion dealerships and announced at the dealer meeting that it would be allowing dealerships to stop carrying the Scion brand with no consequences. Toyota initially intended for about half of all dealers to sell the Scion line, but when the brand proved popular nearly all dealerships decided to carry Scions. Currently about 1,000 of Toyota’s 1,225 dealers carry Scion, according to Automotive News.