Word on the street is that tomorrow morning, the Scion division of Toyota will cease to exist. At a top-secret meeting this afternoon, employees were told that the division, which started with the xA and xB in 2002 as 2003 models, wouldn’t see it’s 14thanniversary. Those who were laid off were told they would need to reapply for other jobs at Toyota, which also means moving to Texas. A formal announcement will be made tomorrow morning at 9 am.
Scion sales reached a peak in 2006, with over 175,000 units sold. Last year, Scion finished in 29th place out of 35 brands sold in the U.S., with total sales of 56,167 units. The plan is for some employees to stick around until August to help sell the last of the vehicles at the dealership; then official death knell will toll.
Since most of Scion’s products are based on other vehicles, it doesn’t appear that too much will change at production facilities. More to come....
After nearly 13 years, Toyota has decided to drop the youth-oriented Scion brand. Despite an attempt last year to rekindle its mojo with two new models, the iA and iM, Scion is closing up shop.
According to a report by CarBuzzard.com journalist BJ Killeen, Scion employees were briefed on Tuesday ahead of an announcement to be made Wednesday.
Scion has suffered years of sales declines, but it seemed like Toyota had a plan to turn the brand around. In addition to the Mazda2-based iA and rebadged Euro-market Toyota Auris, the iM, Scion was expected to add a version of the Toyota C-HR crossover to its lineup. A C-HR concept sporting a Scion badge was even shown off at the recent 2015 Los Angeles auto show last November. The new cars are more practical and mainstream-looking than the boxy, quirky-cool xB, the vehicle that helped the Scion brand establish its identity. They appeal to a wider audience but still have a hint of that rebellious streak Scion is known for. The revamped lineup seemed like a new beginning for the brand.
But alas, Scion's rebirth was not to be. A brand targeted at young people in an era when those young people are buying fewer and fewer cars occupies an extremely narrow niche. In 2015, the entire Scion brand sold 56,167 cars -- less than the number of Toyota Avalon's sold. Its highest sales year was in 2006, when it sold 175,000. And for years, many have questioned whether Scion was even reaching its target demographic effectively. Some reports placed the average age of the Scion buyer at 49. The notion that young buyers would grow up with Scion, graduate to something in the Toyota lineup, and ultimately end up in a Lexus seemed like a good idea at the time. But it apparently hasn't worked out.
Have recent gas prices hurt? Did FCA killing the 200 help push Toyota's decision? Probably didn't help.
Scion will be remembered for its edgy products and out-of-the-box marketing strategies. Though the kids may not have been receptive to the products, few would deny that Scion events were cool, authentic, and genuinely fun. The brand's no-haggle pricing was another innovative tactic designed to attract new buyers that might otherwise be intimidated by the car buying process. And when Scion's lineup was at its dullest, after some started piling on Toyota for ignoring the brand and letting it wither, Toyota gifted it with the FR-S, a rebadged version of the rear-drive Toyota 86 and Subaru BRZ sports car. We previously reported that a second generation was planned, but given that FR-S sales plummeted more than 25 percent in 2015, it's uncertain what will become of that car.
It was a noble effort, Scion. Thanks for keeping it real.