Toyota is killing its youth-oriented Scion brand after learning an important lesson: young buyers simply want Toyotas.
Scion was formed in 2003 to court Generation X buyers, who didn’t like their parents’ brands and didn’t trust traditional marketing, says Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Corp.’s senior vice president of U.S. operations. It was known for its funky designs, like the boxy xB, and was the brand Toyota used when it wanted to experiment with new kinds of marketing, like pop-up test drives or no-haggle pricing.
But as those buyers matured, they started buying Toyotas.
Next came the Millennials. For a while, that generation delayed car buying because they were underemployed and had too much student debt. But when they did buy, they liked their parents’ brands and wanted Toyotas, too.
It’s not unusual for automakers to kill a brand or pull it out of a particular market. Ford Motor Co. killed its Mercury brand in 2010, and multiple brands, like Izusu and Renault, have left the U.S. market. But Kelley Blue Book senior analyst Karl Brauer said this is the first time a U.S.-specific brand launched by a Japanese manufacturer has been scrapped.
At the brand’s height, in 2006, Americans bought just over 173,000 Scions. In 2015, they bought 56,167. By comparison, Toyota sold more than 363,000 Corolla sedans last year.
So beginning in August, 2017 model-year Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will be a part of the Toyota line-up. So will the C-HR, a small SUV concept shown at the L.A. Auto Show that Toyota will likely make. The tC coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August, according to Toyota.
Toyota says it achieved what it had hoped with the Scion, including attracting younger buyers. Half of the 1 million Scions sold were bought by people under 35, Carter said, and 70 percent of those buyers were new to the Toyota family.
Toyota’s decision will have minimal impact on dealers and owners. Scion, which is only sold in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, has no stand-alone dealerships. The brand is sold through 1,004 Toyota dealerships, which will continue to service the cars.
But what if you own a Scion? Scion owners can continue to service their cars at Toyota dealerships. Scion’s complimentary Scion Service Boost program included normal factory maintenance for the first two years or 25,000 miles (whichever comes first), plus 24-hour roadside assistance for two years regardless of mileage. Toyota’s complimentary ToyotaCare program matches those terms. Scion owners will receive the remainder of their Scion Service Boost program under ToyotaCare.
Scion was simply a victim of Toyota’s success.
If you have a Scion that needs service, visit Elmhurst Toyota. We are located at 440 W Lake Street, Elmhurst, IL.