Wednesday, February 3, 2016

So Long, Scion: Toyota Shutting Down Scion Brand


In a move that likely shocks few, Toyota announced today the company would shut down its Scion brand. Started almost 13 years ago, the brand was originally intended to go after a younger set of car buyers, but in the last several years, sales have been slow and the model lineup didn't have the appeal it did in its infancy. 

The current FR-S, iA, and iM will be rebadged as Toyotas for the 2017 model year. The upcoming Scion C-HR will become a Toyota.

I can't say that I'm surprised; in fact I'd be surprised if you were surprised. We all figured this would happen, the only question was when. With declining sales and a fragmented lineup, it only made sense to roll Scion in with the other brands at Toyota.

We could speculate until we're blue in the face about why this happened, but I'll simply lend you my two cents: Scion lost its focus. It originally started by offering the funky xA, the boxy xB, and the pseudo-sporty tC to much fanfare and unexpected popularity. The U.S. hadn't had a car like the xA or xB since the mid-to-late 1990s (remember the Mitsubishi Expo LRV, Eagle Summit Wagon, and Plymouth Colt Vista? They were nearly identical in size. I had one.), and they never resonated as cool, funky, hip urban vehicles. Scion really had something going. It could be argued that Scion made subcompacts cool in the U.S. That's a big deal. It also spawned big competition by Kia (Soul), Ford (Focus), Nissan (Cube), and eventually every other automaker, as they all introduced fun subcompact cars.

However, when Scion made the xB larger for 2008, that represented a massive shift in strategy. It was larger, thirstier, and more mainstream than the original xB. It was like a boxy Camry. The redesigned xD, which was on the Yaris chassis, was also likely a bit too mainstream for what people had expected out of the brand. Scion had originally said every model would only have a four year lifespan to keep the cars fresh. The xB is still being sold eight model years later without a major refresh. The tC also soldiers on despite tweaks here and there, but will be put to death when the Scion brand becomes Toyota. Scion didn't stick to its plan.

Perhaps Scion should've gotten the axe sooner. Maybe it should've happened with the introduction of the FR-S, maybe even before that. Scion was a great experiment that went off with a bang initially, but fizzled into relative obscurity recently.

My 2005 Scion xB autocrossing
Autocrossing my Scion xB at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2005.
I loved my 2005 xB, which I would argue will be the model people remember from the brand 20 years from now. Perhaps introducing the second generation Toyota bB (which is what the original xB was called in Japan) would've helped keep Scion on track. But now we'll never know. So long, Scion. It was fun while it lasted.

5 comments:

Gabe Pettinicchio said...

So no we lose the availability of the iA (Mazda2)?

Andy Lilienthal said...

No, I'm guessing the iA will continue on as either, well, the Toyota iA or the Toyota Yaris Sedan.

And this brings up a question: What will the naming conventions be? Will we keep iA, iM, and FR-S, or will it go Yaris Sedan (iA), Corolla Wagon (iM), and GT-86 (FR-S)?

Anonymous said...

I guess so @Andy. Yaris Sedan 2017, Auris 2017 and GT-86 2017, probably the lowest trim due to minor differences such as manual climate controls, among other things.

nlpnt said...

They're keeping the FR-S designation, and I'm guessing the iM will become the Toyota Corolla Hatchback and hoping it'll gain some of the options (sunroof, choice of interior colors) that the Corolla S sedan has. Possibly get a decontented model without the standard body kit and alloys as well.

Anime Gee said...

Scion started off very well. They had car that were cheap, but great. The youngsters could actually afford them. The 1st generation xB was a hit. Their xA was also a great little gas sipper. I didn't care for the tC, but I could see why people liked it.

They fell off course with the 2nd generation xB & other offerings. They got pricey and/or boring. The average youngster could not afford them or didn't care for them. Look at the awesome, but what the heck is it doing in the Scion lineup, FR-S. That should have been a Toyota from the get go. At $25k, there aren't a lot of youngsters that can afford that car. Everything else Scion sucks at the moment. They should have brought in that Darth Vader looking Toyota bB instead of that large xB. They would have had another hit. Good riddance Scion. You were great with the 1st gen xB (I have a soft spot for this one), XA, & tC, but you lost your ways & fell in with the wrong crowd.