Scion, which came to life in 2003 as a Toyota sub-brand aimed at young buyers, is going away. All of its current models, save the tC coupe, will be become Toyotas.
That means the FR-S sports coupe, the iA sedan, and iM hatchback, along with the upcoming C-HR, will all be rebadged as Toyotas for the 2017 model 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, in a statement. “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 tried to pioneer a few new sales strategies with Scion – most notably a no-haggle pricing strategy, pre-paid maintenance plans, and an ordering system that only allowed customers to choose color and transmission – customers then would purchase various accessories through Scion dealers in order to spec the cars the way they wanted.
In a press release sent out Wednesday, Toyota said that 50 percent of the more than one million cars sold by Scion since 2003 were purchased by buyers under the age of 35. Yet recent reports suggest that older buyers were more likely to be drawn to Scion (along with competing models, such as the Kia Soul). A 2013 Wall St. Journal report uses Edmunds.com registration data to show that about 42 percent of subcompact-car customers that spring were around retirement age.
Current Scion owners will now be visiting Toyota dealerships for service and repairs.
Scion’s sales numbers have declined in recent years. The brand did top six figures in total units sold in the years from 2005 to 2008, but in 2015, the brand sold just over 56,000 units. Meanwhile, three of the four current models are good fits for the Toyota lineup – the FR-S gives the company a true sports car, while the iM can slot into the role that was left vacant when the Matrix was cancelled, serving as a slightly sportier alternative to the Yaris. Similarly, the iA can work as a sporty alternative to the bread-and-butter Corolla. Only the tC is made redundant by this change.
Scion corporate employees will have the chance to take on other jobs within Toyota.
Below is a video statement from Lentz.