The Three Real Reasons Toyota Just Killed its Scion Brand
John Goreham's picture

The Three Real Reasons Toyota Just Killed Its Scion Brand

Toyota made it official today. Scion is gone. Here's why.
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After a 12-year run, Toyota called it quits on Scion today. Any Toyota owner who has visited a dealership recently knows why. The little Scion sections inside the Toyota dealerships never really made any sense to those that have been Toyota buyers for years or generations. In 2013 Torque News predicted this would come to pass. As a long time Toyota owner, and as a person covering both brands for many years, here are the real reasons I think the Scion brand is gone.

The Top-Selling Car At Scion Was the Toyota Celica GT
Those who owned or remember the Toyota Celica know that the Scion tC (as in Toyota Celica) was never a new vehicle. The four-cylinder, front drive hatchback was simply the latest iteration of a decent car loved by many. Calling it a tC didn’t change its appeal, it only diminished the name recognition Toyota earned over many years and multiple generations of Celicas. The tC was the best-selling model at Scion for most of its run, and its sales have now dropped off to nearly nothing.

None Of the Other Scions Sold
The automotive press always loved the sporty, rear-wheel drive Scion FR-S, but after its initial introduction nobody bought one. In January, Scion sold only 507 FR-S cars. That was down a whopping 30% from last January when the company sold only 746. The FR-S has its charms, but enthusiasts always wanted more torque and a bit more power. Scion stubbornly refused to add an optional engine worthy of the car’s chassis and handling.

Corolla Outsells Scion By Five To One
Although Scion does have the lowest average buyer age in the entire auto industry, those models would likely have done just as well as Toyota branded cars. The Corolla line has models with stick shifts, models with sporty looks and models that are extremely affordable for young people with limited budgets (or limited budgets given to them by their parents). The Corolla outsold all of Scion by four or five to one most of the time Scion was a brand. Those Corollas were literally next to the Scion tC and other small cars inside Toyota dealerships. It is hard to beat the Corolla as an entry level car, and Scion never really had a chance.

Toyota deserves credit for trying Scion and, even more credit for pulling the plug when the experiment failed to achieve the real goal, which was to build an inexpensive sporty line that Toyota could break off from Toyota like its Lexus line.

For details on how the Scion cars will be integrated to Toyota, please see our separate report on that topic here.


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