So I’m going to end up with an orphan-brand car. The news this morning is that Toyota is pulling the plug on Scion, at the end of the 2016 model year. Good call. Scion had some relevance in its first few years, but it soon slipped into irrelevance. Why?
Scion was launched in response to Toyota’s very serious concerns about young buyers in the 1990s negative perception of the Toyota brand. They did not want to be seen in the same brand as what their parents drove, and Scion was the easy way out: a sub-brand, targeted to younger buyers with funkiness and no-haggle buying. And it worked, quite well during the original xB’s tenure. But then that may have had more to do with the intrinsic charms of that unique vehicle than the brand.
Toyota says that the new generation of young (potential) car buyers is different. They’re not rebellious anymore, and look up to their parents including their choice of car brands. If Mom and Dad use iPhones and drive Toyotas, so do the kids. Everyone is cool now; it’s all in the family. So Scion’s reason for existence has fallen away, thanks to the new family dynamics.
So now that Toyotas are cool for all ages, that means that Scion was at risk of becoming a “lesser Toyota”; a discount sub-brand where most of the cheaper Toyotas (and Mazdas) are sold. That’s decidedly not cool.
The beauty about Scion is that there’s very little cost (if any) to pulling the plug. All Scions have always been legally Toyotas. So now they will wear the Toyota badge. That’s going to make some folks happy. FR-S owners will not have to re-badge their cars as Toyotas anymore.
The Scion line-up will continue just as it has been. The tC coupe was already scheduled to be axed after the 2016 MY. And the Scion C-HR concept will appear as a Toyota for 2017. It’s all one happy family, again.
Update: please read all the comments first before commenting. There’s a lot of misunderstanding as to the difference between a genuine car “brand” and a “sub brand” like Scion. There are very specific legal and business differences between the two. Perception is not always reality. Thanks. PN