toyota drops scion brand models to be rebadged as toyotas – DOC664111
Toyota has just announced that it will be absorbing Scion and its entire lineup in a move that signals the end of Scion as a stand-alone brand. The announcement ends the speculation surrounding the fate of Scion, which included rumors of the brand’s death. Apparently, that’s not the case, at least in Toyota ’s view. Sure, the Scion name will cease to exist, but its models will be re-badged as Toyotas as part of a brand transition that’s set to begin in August 2016.
No longer will these models be badged as Scions. Instead, they’ll begin to carry the Toyota badge, including the FR-S sports car, the Mazda2- based iA sedan, and the Toyota Auris– based iM five-door hatchback. Even the production of the C-HR, which made its debut at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, will continue on as scheduled, though now badged as a Toyota. The only Scion model that will be dropped is the tC sports coupe, which will have a “final release series edition” before riding off into the sunset when its Scion brethren moves to the mothership.
Part of this transition includes absorbing the brand’s 22 dedicated team members, who represent sales, marketing, distribution, strategy, and product and accessories planning. According to Toyota, they’ll be offered new jobs at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in Torrance, California. The same goes for Scion’s regional representatives. Instead of letting them go, they’ll assume new positions in their respective Toyota services. Likewise, Scion customers will also continue to have a dedicated service and repair process in Toyota dealerships’ service departments.
In some ways, it’s a smart business move for Toyota because Scion, as its own brand, never really gained any form of significant traction with its youth-oriented approach. It had some moments, including selling 175,000 units in 2006, but for the most part, poor sales became the thing that was associated with the brand. It even came to the point wherein the brand sold only 56,167 cars in 2015, less than the number of Toyota Avalons that were sold in the same period.
If anything, Toyota wasn’t short in giving the brand some attention because it made every effort to infuse it with models it could succeed with. None was more evident than the FR-S, which Toyota sold in the U.S. as an exclusive model, leaving the Toyota GT-86 in other markets. But, even that couldn’t get Scion out of its doldrums, so the decision was made to drop the Scion band entirely.
Why it matters
It’s sad to see Scion (the brand) go, especially for the few people that actually liked its edgier approach, but that’s the nature of the business. Less than a week ago, Fiat -Chrysler announced that it was stopping production of the Dodge Dart and the Chrysler 200 so clearly, this isn’t just a Toyota thing. It’s a business decision and nobody can blame the company for doing this because of the apparent belief that they could get more out of these models as Toyotas instead of Scions.
Now I know that there’s a little bit of semantics here. Toyota or Scion. Scion or Toyota. With the exception of the tC, all of Scion ’s models will still be around. They’ll just wear the badge of the mother company now. So nothing really changes in the grand scheme of things. Still, there’s a sentimental side at play here, one that’s being tugged at knowing that Scion, as a brand, will no longer exist.
At the end of the day, Scion just wasn’t cutting it anymore and in this industry, a brand is only as good as the number of models it sells. So, Toyota did what it did without totally killing off the brand’s existing models.
Personally, I’m going to miss Scion, but not for the reasons people might think. I wasn’t really a fan of a lot of its models, but I did appreciate how the company embraced its edginess, even to the point where it seemed to backfire on it. For better or worse, it created that perception, and for as long as it lasted, the brand will take its final curtain call with its identity intact.
Happy trails, Scion! It was fun while it lasted.
2016 Scion iA
Scion, established as a separate brand in 2003 as a laboratory to explore new products and processes to attract youth customers, is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand. Scion achieved its goals of developing unique products and processes, and bringing in new, younger customers to Toyota. With more than a million cars sold, 70 percent of Scions were purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50 percent were under 35 years old.
“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.
“We could not have achieved the success we have had without the incredible support of Scion’s customers, dealers and team members, so supporting them throughout this transition process will be one of our top priorities,” said Lentz.
Toyota’s decision was made in response to customers’ needs. 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 has consistently been the youngest brand in the auto industry with an average age of 36 years old. At 29, the tC sports coupe has the lowest-average age buyer in the industry. The most recent additions to the line-up, the iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback, are bringing in new buyers with 70 percent being first-time new car purchasers. Additionally, more than 50 percent of iM and iA buyers are under 35 years old.
As part of the brand transition, beginning in August 2016, MY17 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will become part of the Toyota family. The tC sports coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August 2016. The C-HR, which recently debuted at the L.A. Auto Show, will be a part of the Toyota line-up.
The service and repair process for Scion customers will be unaffected by this change as customers will continue to visit Toyota dealerships’ service departments.
“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.”
Scion’s 22 dedicated team members, who represent sales, marketing, distribution, strategy, and product and accessories planning, will have the opportunity to take on new jobs at Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. in Torrance. Scion regional representatives will assume different responsibilities in their respective Toyota sales offices.
“Scion has had some amazing products over the years and our current vehicles are packed with premium features at value prices,” said Andrew Gilleland, Scion vice president. “It’s been a great run and I’m proud that the spirit of Scion will live on through the knowledge and products soon to be available through the Toyota network.”
Scion Processes – Scion served as a laboratory for products and key sales and marketing processes that have provided valuable lessons for other Toyota brands:
Pure Pricing – dealers set a price for a car and customers did not need to negotiate
Mono-Spec cars – providing cars with only two options: transmission and color
Personalization – offering a large array of accessories to help customers customize their vehicles
Pure Process – transparent financing process
Pure Process Plus – an online system so much of the car-purchase process could be completed online
Scion Service Boost – pre-paid maintenance plan
Release Series – dynamic life cycle management through special features and options
Grassroots marketing – initial Scion brand was “discovered” by customers through unique events
Scion Products — Scion has had some outstanding products that have made an impact in the industry including the original “box,” the xB and the FR-S affordable sports car. The tC sports coupe has consistently attracted the youngest buyer in the industry.
Scion Executives — Scion served as an important training ground for Toyota vice presidents, many of whom have been promoted to other roles:
Jim Lentz — Chief Executive Officer, Toyota Motor North America
Mark Templin – Managing Officer, Toyota Motor Corporation, Executive Vice President, Lexus International
Jack Hollis – Group Vice President, Toyota Marketing
Doug Murtha – Group Vice President, Corporate Strategy and Planning, Toyota Motor North America
Andrew Gilleland – current Vice President, Scion