Turns out, maybe driving the same car as Dad isn’t so bad: Toyota announced today that it is eliminating Scion, the brand it established in 2003 to attract younger buyers who considered Toyotas too stodgy.
Unlike their 2003 counterparts, the latest crop of young people want vehicles that are “fun to drive but also more practical,” said Toyota in a statement on the decision. "They, like their parents, have come to appreciate the Toyota brand and its ... quality, dependability and reliability. At the same time, new Toyota vehicles have evolved to feature the dynamic styling and handling young people desire."
Ian Beavis, chief strategy officer at automotive consulting agency AMCI, called Scion “a worthwhile experiment. “
“When Scion started, it was to capture Gen Xers who would have nothing to do with their parent’s brand, Toyota,” he said in an email. “Through Scion, Toyota learned a lot about how to pitch to youth buyers. Times have changed with Millennials being in the market and viewing Toyota favorably and as a better brand than Scion. It makes sense to fold it into the more powerful brand as Millennials are the new mainstream."
Beavis noted that all the roughly 1,000 Scion dealers already sell Toyota, making the transition easier. And with Toyota now taking full control of Daihatsu, who along with Subaru and Mazda provided rebadged models for Scion, “there will be a more steady pipeline of product into the segments that Scion occupied.”
Scion’s U.S. market share has fallen from .5% to .3% since 2012, according to sales data from Edmunds.com. “It’s hard being an small car automaker in this economy when consumers are opting for SUVs and trucks,” said Jessica Caldwell, Edmunds senior analyst, in an email.
More than a million Scions have been sold, 70% of them purchased by customers new to Toyota and 50% to under 35 years old.
Scion has consistently been the youngest brand in the auto industry with an average age of 36 years old, according to Toyota. At 29, the tC sports coupe has the lowest-average age buyer in the industry. Seventy percent of buyers of the most recent additions to the line-up, the iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback, are first-time new car purchasers. And more than 50% of iM and iA buyers are under 35.
As part of the brand transition, beginning in August 2016, Model Year 2017 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The tC sports coupe will have a final release series edition and end production in August 2016.
Scion’s 22 dedicated employees will be reassigned to Toyota, while Scion regional representatives will assume different responsibilities at Toyota sales offices.