Goodbye Scion: Toyota kills American youth brand

TopGear doesn’t do much Serious Car Business News, but a breaking story in the USA caught our eye today. Toyota has announced its Scion sub-brand is being axed this August, due to disappointing sales. Ouch.

Scion, for our readers not of the United States, was launched in 2002 by Toyota in an effort to snatch younger buyers who swarmed to rival products because of Toyota’s beige image. The cars were mostly based on existing products, but got new bodies, cabin trim, tech and colours, plus a sense of being sportier, and well, fun. The boxy xB was a bit of a cult favourite. And the American-market version of the entry-level hoonmobile that is the Toyota GT86 is also badged as a Scion, known Stateside as the FR-S.

However, the cunning plan to snare first-time buyers with a Scion, then guide them towards swapping it for a Toyota or Lexus in later years never really came off. The brand’s record sales year was way back in 2006, and since then a combination of the world financial crisis, fewer young Americans learning to drive and a less daring product range has seen Scion’s momentum slow to a crawl. In 2015, Scion shifted just 56,167 cars in the US – a lot in isolation, but fewer than some individual Toyota models managed in two months, according to US business sources. Double-ouch.

It’s not a complete bloodbath – the existing Scion range, including the rear-drive FR-S, will be rebadged as Toyotas, and be sold through Scion’s 1004 US dealerships, albeit rebranded under the more established parent brand’s name. It’ll be interesting to see if that helps shift the ex-yoof models…

If you’re not an American, you might be wondering why this matters outside of the land of the free. Well, spinning sub-brands off existing cars is far from an American phenomenon – look at the likes of DS trying to break away from Citroen, and posh-Nissan outfit Infiniti’s continuing struggles to make headway in Europe. Okay, so these are targeting wealthier, premium-hungry buyers rather than notoriously choosy and fashion-conscious young-uns, but you can guarantee Scion’s demise will be a cautionary tale eyed seriously by punchy car brands targeting the next generation of drivers and owners all over the world. Damn these pesky millenials…

In the meantime, got any last words for Scion? Leave your Finest Serious News Analysis below…

  

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