Toyota Drops Scion Brand, Models To Be Rebadged As Toyotas
The Scion name had an interesting 13-year runby Kirby Garlitos, on
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.
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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.
Read our full review on the Scion iA here.