On February 3, Toyota announced its youth-oriented Scion brand would be folded into the mother ship and return home. Scion began in 2003 as a way to explore unique products for an emerging generation. It's most famous product was the xB, otherwise known as "The Box." It was eventually joined by the xD sub-compact, tC coupe, and FR-S sports car -- the latter a joint-venture with Subaru. When Toyota introduced its micro city car to the U.S., it did so as the Scion iQ.
"This isn't a step backward for Scion; it's a leap forward for Toyota," said Jim Lentz, CEO, Toyota Motor North America. "Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network. 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."
In The Beginning
Genesis was not only the name of the first book in the Bible, or Hyundai's luxury brand, but also the code name for Toyota's initial venture to reach young people. I attended an event back in 1999 that introduced journalists to the Toyota Echo and Celica -- cars aimed at Gen-X and Gen-Y. They were affordable and loaded with style. Four years later, Scion was born as a formalization of all that was learned with "Project Genesis".
Scion achieved its mission by having among the youngest drives in the industry, with an average owner age of 36 years old. The tC's average age is just 29. The current iA sedan and iM hatchback claim 70 percent first-time car buyers and 50 percent under 35 years old.
Toyota's Next Chapter
All of the current Scion models will transition to the Toyota brand beginning in August, so if you love them, they'll still be around. And, the futuristic C-HR compact crossover that was targeted for Scion will arrive as a Toyota instead. These cars should continue doing what Scion achieved.
"The Scion brand never quite caught on in the way that Toyota hoped it would," said Jessica Caldwell, Senior Analyst, Edmunds.com. "By offering Scion products under th eToyota badge, the company can save marketing costs and eliminate what had effectively become a distraction from its core business focus."
Through 2015, Scion delivered 1,092,675 vehicles, hitting its all-time annual high in 2006 with 173,034 units sold. That's a fraction of Corolla production over that time. Despite no-negotiate pricing, simple option packages, and spunky style, Scion never hit the top of the sales charts. Mission mostly accomplished, it's time to consolidate efforts.
"Scion has had some amazing products over the years and our current vehicles are packed with premium features at value prices," said Andres 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."
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