The automotive industry is thriving. Manufacturers just enjoyed the best sales year in history during 2015 and the recent low-gas-price trend is catapulting sales of SUVs, crossovers and trucks here in America. Despite the remarkable success of the auto industry, Toyota has decided to do away with the youth-oriented brand we aptly know as Scion.
Scion, at the time of its conception, was a rather clever brand for Toyota in that it gave the largest automotive company an outlet to reach younger buyers. Toyota was undoubtedly faced with their critique of being boring for many years and settling on providing the masses with the most reliable transportation appliances you could find. Scion had hopes of changing that conception outside of Toyota ever producing anything remotely similar to the Supra, the sports car that kept the heartbeat of Toyota in the “zone” for enthusiasts during the 1990s.
I can remember it vividly. The local Toyota dealerships had something different, something cheeky that garnered the attention of a new audience. The boxy Scion xB (along side of the xA) at the time was the first entrant for the new Toyota off-set brand in 2004 (introduced in 2002), and there it thrived for several years. Fast forwarding to 2016 and Scion saw uncertain days as sales had dropped about 25% leaving Toyota with a hard choice. That choice, one that will set precedence for new marketing techniques and potentially new Toyota-branded youth-oriented vehicles that carry a “crossover” classification, will be the new trend setter for a narrowed demographic into the next few years.
Toyota has made it clear that the current Scion vehicles for model year 2017 will be rebadged as Toyotas while the tC will phase out after next year only leaving the iA, iM and FR-S to carry the “fun car” torch.
Scion, it was a fun run, but you couldn’t keep the pace.
Official Press Release
Scion Brand to Transition to ToyotaValuable Insights Will Aid Toyota in Attracting New, Young Customers
February 03, 2016
TORRANCE, Calif., Feb. 3, 2016 – 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.
Scion Executives — Scion served as an important training ground for Toyota vice presidents, many of whom have been promoted to other roles:
- Jim Lentz — Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Motor North America
- Mark Templin – Managing Officer, Toyota Motor Corporation, Executive Vice President, Lexus International
- Jack Hollis – Group Vice President, Toyota Marketing
- Doug Murtha – Group Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, Toyota Motor North America
- Andrew Gilleland – current Vice President, Scion
Scion sales by model and year:
Scion Sales History
2003 – 2015
2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 Total FR-S 0 11,417 18,327 14,062 10,507 54,313 iQ 0 248 8,879 4,046 2,040 482 15,695 tC 28,062 74,415 79,125 63,852 40,980 17,998 15,204 22,433 22,666 19,094 17,947 16,459 418,235 xB 6,936 47,013 54,037 61,306 45,834 45,220 25,461 20,364 17,017 19,789 17,849 16,583 15,223 392,632 xD 10,948 27,665 14,499 10,110 9,573 10,756 9,005 7,377 794 100,727 xA 3,962 24,184 28,033 32,603 9,547 39 3 98,371 iA 7,605 7,605 iM 5,097 5,097 Total 10,898 99,259 156,485 173,034 130,181 113,904 57,961 45,678 49,271 73,507 68,321 58,009 56,167 1,092,675