The End of Scion

Posted by Stephen On Friday, February 5th, 2016

The Scion brand was designed from the ground up to appeal to Millennials. It was a 12-year effort aiming small cars at young buyers.

Many models, such as the Scion xB (Toyota bB in Japan), have been discontinued already anyway. This was their flagship model. It was one of the original models launched back in 2003.
Toyota intends on keeping three of the models and merging them into the Toyota lineup. The change will happen in August of this year as they begin production of 2017 vehicles. The Scion tC is scheduled to be discontinued at that time.

Sales for the Scion brand peaked in 2006 at 173,034 vehicles. They haven’t seen a sales year like that since. In 2015, they sold a mere fraction of that, sitting at 56,167 vehicles sold. The U.S. market is not as acclimated toward smaller cars as they are toward larger SUVs and trucks. But perhaps it is also true to say that the Scion brand has failed to create the same excitement in the younger buying public that the Lexus brand has managed among the older strata of the population.

The trend of discontinuing smaller cars continues. Fiat Chrysler intends on phasing out the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200 sedan simply because smaller cars aren’t being sold.

Originally designed for the Japanese market, the Toyota Scion was a separate brand. Although the xB won’t be rebadged under Toyota’s iconic label, the FR-S will. Its lineage goes as far back as the original Celica of the 1970s.

Toyota claims that the Scion brand was more of a test brand to see how they can appeal to Millennials. The entire idea was to entice a new generation of younger buyers as the primary demographic for new buyers of Toyota cars were aging. The majority demographic for Scion was under 35 years old.

Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz said in a statement that “Scion has allowed us to fast-track ideas that would’ve been challenging to test for the Toyota network.” Jim Lentz was one of the original founding vice presidents for Scion of the brand.

Due to the way Toyota is set up and the fact that Scions are being sold through Toyota dealerships, Toyota does not anticipate any stores being affected to close the brand.
Scion makes good cars. It’s a brand that has left many Millennials with good memories.

The thing is that there are other dynamics at play here. Many Millenials came of age in the Great Recession, burdened with college debt, saddled with internships instead of well-paying jobs and finding it difficult to get the kind of credit Generation X has used to fund their car purchases. So did Scion really stand a chance? Or is it just the case that with new car buying becoming increasingly difficult for younger people, a hip trendy brand was doomed to fail anyway?

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