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.
|Autocrossing my Scion xB at Miller Park in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 2005.|