Toyota made a huge deal when Scion was introduced. Acknowledging that the Toyota brand had become stodgy and conservative and appealed to people who were less appealing, according to the company itself. So they introduced the Scion brand to appeal to younger and hipper people with some vehicles that were rather appealing themselves and lots of people bought them.
Someone at Toyota must have forgotten the message. After the initial release of interesting vehicles, particularly the Scion xB, the brand seemed to have been utterly forgotten by parent Toyota and there was little new product and no interesting product. So, not surprisingly, Scion sales faltered. Today, Toyota announced it was going to "merge the Scion brand into Toyota" which means that they're giving up on the idea of the hip, youthful brand.
While I could say that that's unfortunate, based on the product line of late it's really not. Scion has been a true second-class citizen with nothing to show but a small, lukewarm selection of vehicles that had no real distinction from parent Toyota. And you can see that Toyota is making attempts to make their parent brand less uncool, especially with the 2015 Camry. Rather than being the refrigerator of transportation, it's more like a side-by-side refrigerator: just a little bit cooler but still a boring, driving appliance.
That's okay, though, because there are plenty of cars that are both cool and reliable. While Toyota's benchmark has been its product reliability, other vehicle manufacturers have actually bested the company on initial product quality including Hyundai. Toyota execs are singing a sad song on karaoke night when looking over their shoulders at Hyundai and Kia who are besting them on product design and product quality. And now Hyundai is stepping into the more profitable arena with luxury offerings.
Well, I can't say this is a sad day because Scion has been essentially dead for a long time with the company just ignoring the brand's mission but it is too bad that the folks at Toyota aren't able to do both cool and quality at the same time. Oh well, nobody rides at the front of the parade forever. Following is the press release from Toyota announcing Scion's demise.
Toyota Press Release
Scion, established as a separate brand in 2003 as a laboratory to explore new products and processes to attract youth customers, is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand. Scion achieved its goals of developing unique products and processes, and bringing in new, younger customers to Toyota. With more than a million cars sold, 70 percent of Scions were purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50 percent were under 35 years old.
“This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota. Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network,” said Jim Lentz, founding vice president of Scion and now CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “I was there when we established Scion and our goal was to make Toyota and our dealers stronger by learning how to better attract and engage young customers. I’m very proud because that’s exactly what we have accomplished.
“We could not have achieved the success we have had without the incredible support of Scion’s customers, dealers and team members, so supporting them throughout this transition process will be one of our top priorities,” said Lentz.
Toyota’s decision was made in response to customers’ needs. Today’s younger buyers still want fun-to-drive vehicles that look good, but they are also more practical. They, like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its traditional attributes of quality, dependability and reliability. At the same time, new Toyota vehicles have evolved to feature the dynamic styling and handling young people desire.
Scion has consistently been the youngest brand in the auto industry with an average age of 36 years old. At 29, the tC sports coupe has the lowest-average age buyer in the industry. The most recent additions to the line-up, the iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback, are bringing in new buyers with 70 percent being first-time new car purchasers. Additionally, more than 50 percent of iM and iA buyers are under 35 years old.
As part of the brand transition, beginning in August 2016, MY17 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will become part of the Toyota family. The tC sports coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August 2016. The C-HR, which recently debuted at the L.A. Auto Show, will be a part of the Toyota line-up.
The service and repair process for Scion customers will be unaffected by this change as customers will continue to visit Toyota dealerships’ service departments.
“We appreciate our 1,004 Scion dealers and the support they’ve given the brand,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations. “We believe our dealers have gained valuable insights and have received a strong return on their investment. During this time of transition, we will work closely with them to support this process and help communicate this change to customers.”
Scion’s 22 dedicated team members, who represent sales, marketing, distribution, strategy, and product and accessories planning, will have the opportunity to take on new jobs at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in Torrance. Scion regional representatives will assume different responsibilities in their respective Toyota sales offices.
“Scion has had some amazing products over the years and our current vehicles are packed with premium features at value prices,” said Andrew Gilleland, Scion vice president. “It’s been a great run and I’m proud that the spirit of Scion will live on through the knowledge and products soon to be available through the Toyota network.”
Scion Processes - Scion served as a laboratory for products and key sales and marketing processes that have provided valuable lessons for other Toyota brands:
- Pure Pricing – dealers set a price for a car and customers did not need to negotiate
- Mono-Spec cars – providing cars with only two options: transmission and color
- Personalization – offering a large array of accessories to help customers customize their vehicles
- Pure Process – transparent financing process
- Pure Process Plus – an online system so much of the car-purchase process could be completed online
- Scion Service Boost – pre-paid maintenance plan
- Release Series – dynamic life cycle management through special features and options
- Grassroots marketing – initial Scion brand was “discovered” by customers through unique events
Scion Products -- Scion has had some outstanding products that have made an impact in the industry including the original “box,” the xB and the FR-S affordable sports car. The tC sports coupe has consistently attracted the youngest buyer in the industry.