Toyota Says Sayonara to Scion

Company will be phasing out brand, folding models into Toyota lineup
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 3, 2016 11:05 AM CST
Toyota Says Sayonara to Scion
In this April 1, 2015 file photo, the 2016 Scion iM is on display at the New York International Auto Show in New York.   (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

Toyota's Scion brand has been "euthanized," as Jalopnik puts it, with the car manufacturer announcing Wednesday the division will be killed, per a Toyota press release. The brand will be phased out, and existing models—including the MY17, FR-S sports car, iA sedan, iM hatchback, and C-HR concept car—will be folded into the Toyota lineup. The tC sports coupe will cease production entirely in August. "This isn't a step backward for Scion; it's a leap forward for Toyota," says James Lentz, Toyota Motor North America's CEO and one of Scion's founders. Jalopnik notes the timing seems a "bit strange," since two new Scion models are right now cruising into dealerships, but Lentz suggests the company simply did everything it wanted to do with the Scion, which started off as its own brand in 2003. "Our goal was to make Toyota and our dealers stronger by learning how to better attract and engage young customers … [and] that's exactly what we have accomplished," he says.

USA Today notes that goal was indeed achieved—in some respects. The average age of a Scion purchaser was 36—which the Wall Street Journal notes is almost 20 years younger than the average new car-buyer—and 70% of Scion buyers had never bought a Toyota before. But the brand was hampered by design problems and a limited number of models, among other issues, and sales started dropping after its 2006 peak: For comparison purposes, CNET points out that 56,000 Scions were sold in all of 2015—which equals about two months' worth of Camry sales. "I just think the product was never really as compelling as it could have been or should have been," a Kelley Blue Book analyst says. No (publicly admitted) regrets from Toyota, though. "Scion has allowed us to fast-track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network," Lentz says. (A Forbes columnist thinks Toyota only has itself to blame.)

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