Pages Navigation Menu

Car and Truck Parts Unlimited

Your Source to find the best deals on parts and accessories

Prince Scion is Dead

Published on www.automobilemag.com

February 4, 2016
2006 Scion XA Front End In Motion

So, who thought launching the Scion brand was a good idea in the first place? Apparently, few outside immediate family and paid staff at Toyota.
Back in 2003, when Toyota introduced the sub-brand under the direction of James Farley, now at Ford Motor Co., the idea was that Generation X consumers were not loving the Toyota brand much. Just as baby boomers left the Detroit brands their parents drove in favor of Japanese brands, Gen Xers, too, the theory went, would not be following in their parents tire tracks. Turns out that both generations are just fine with Toyota as long as the products are of high quality and attractive design, and are priced right.

2005 Scion xA xB Left Side

2006 Scion xA front three quarters in motion 02

2015 Scion xB front three quarter

2015 Scion iQ front three quarters

After a promising start with the xB and xA models brought over from Japan, Scion faded when Toyota did not keep the brand fresh with new, fresh product. The original charter was for Toyota to bring one-off designs from around the world to U.S. buyers. The boxy xB, for example, was supposed to be one generation only, with no second-generation redesign.
And today? In a survey last year, marketing agency Moosylvania ranked brands according to how they fare with Millennials. Toyota was number 33, the second highest brand on the list, behind Ford, and ahead of archrival Honda. Millennials made up nearly one-third of the Toyota brand’s buyers last year, according to Toyota Motor Sales.
At the brand’s apex in 2006, U.S. consumers bought 173,034 Scions. In 2015, they bought just 56,167 during a record year of industry sales. The brand is hardly worth funding given that Toyota sold more than 363,000 Corolla sedans under its own nameplate.
Scion is going away, but not its cars. Beginning this August for the 2017 model year, they will be re-badged Toyotas and the Scion signage at Toyota dealerships will come down. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will carry Toyota badging. The Scion C-HR, a small SUV concept shown at the Los Angeles Auto Show, will be developed as a Toyota. The tC coupe ends production in August.

1002 01 z+2010 scion tC+front three quarter view

2015 Scion iQ side profile

2016 Scion iM top view

2016 Scion iA front three quarter in motion 12

According to Toyota, half the roughly 1 million Scion vehicles sold were to buyers under the age of 35. But it is pretty sketchy whether Toyota would have sold those cars to the same customers if they wore the Toyota badge, instead.
Scion has experimented with selling tactics such as “no haggle” pricing and two years of free maintenance. But “no haggle” is a tactic that is increasingly being delivered to customers from online buying sites like TrueCar and Edmunds, which offer certificates and guaranteed pricing before consumers ever visit a showroom.
Fashioning a new brand to go after a certain demographic is fraught. General Motors tried it with Geo, sold by Chevy dealers back in the late 1980s and early ‘90s. It didn’t do much. Returning to the Moosylvania survey, it is striking to see how many well-established brands are in the top-50 with Millennials: Dove soap, Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Chevrolet and Ford, The Gap, Levi’s, Converse. There are newer brands too, of course: H&M, HTC, Apple, Aeropostale.
The lesson might be that for an established brand like Toyota to reach new and younger customers to keep the pipeline full, it need only galvanize the organizations around making sure that it offers vehicles they want, priced right and designed in a modern way. Millennials, those who still want personal cars at least, are attracted to slick design, good fuel economy, reliability and a strong price-to-value proposition. Surveys also show they are attracted to brands that are visionary in the way they bring technology to market and care about the environment and communities in which they operate.

2015 Scion FR S manual front three quarter

2016 Scion FR S front three quarter 02

2011 scion tC side in motion 2

2016 Scion iA front three quarter in motion 14

It seems Toyota was ticking all those boxes pretty well even without the Scion brand.
Positioning Scion products properly under the Toyota brand with modern designs and marketing tactics should only bolster the parent brand. Even the existence of Scion seemed to telegraph to traditional Toyota buyers that those vehicles were for “older folks.” It’s a wonder the existence of Scion didn’t, in fact, hurt Toyota’s brand.
As it turns out, you can aim a brand at the young, but you can’t make them buy. And you can’t keep oldsters from buying Scions or shopping at H&M. After its initial success at launch, the average age buyer of Scions settled in at 49.
The Prince is dead. Long live King Toyota.