Only hours after rumors started circulating on the web about Scion’s demise, Toyota made it official on Wednesday morning. The Japanese carmaker’s youth-orientated brand will cease to exist in August this year after 13 years in the market, with most of its existing cars to be rebadged as Toyotas in the North American market.
These include the FR-S sports coupe, and the newly introduced iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback that will continue as 2017MY Toyotas, along with the upcoming production version of the C-HR crossover concept that recently debuted at the LA Auto Show and which will go on sale next year.
The tC sports coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August 2016, while Scion had already made the decision to axe the xB last fall – even though it’s still available on dealer lots.
Scion was launched in 2002 as a funky brand aimed at young Gen-X buyers, who viewed Toyota as an old-person’s brand, something it was successful at in its early years, especially with their boxy xB and compact xA models, peaking in 2006 with 173,034 sales.
The following years, a combination of the Great Recession and Toyota’s ‘unintended acceleration’ scandal, saw the Japanese company diverting its time and sources elsewhere, while the final blow came more recently when Toyota decided to reinvent itself shifting its focus to a younger crowd with more aggressive designs (i.e. the new Prius) and better performance. In other words, the reason why it created Scion in the first place, ceased to exist.
“Toyota’s decision was made in response to customers’ needs,” said the company in a statement. “Today’s younger buyers still want fun-to-drive vehicles that look good, but they are also more practical. They, like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its traditional attributes of quality, dependability and reliability. At the same time, new Toyota vehicles have evolved to feature the dynamic styling and handling young people desire.”
Scion sold a little over 1 million cars over its 13-year long run, with its worst year being 2010 at 49,271 deliveries. The addition of the FR-S coupe and the iQ city car gave the brand a temporary boost, but it never managed to recover selling only 56,167 vehicles last year.
“This isn’t a step backward for Scion; it’s a leap forward for Toyota. Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network,” said Jim Lentz, founding vice president of Scion and now CEO, Toyota Motor North America. “I was there when we established Scion and our goal was to make Toyota and our dealers stronger by learning how to better attract and engage young customers. I’m very proud because that’s exactly what we have accomplished.”
Current owners of Scion cars won’t see any changes, as Toyota will continue to handle all warranty, service, repair and financing work.
“We appreciate our 1,004 Scion dealers and the support they’ve given the brand,” said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations. “We believe our dealers have gained valuable insights and have received a strong return on their investment. During this time of transition, we will work closely with them to support this process and help communicate this change to customers.”