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Scion is Dead. This is a Good Thing.

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Opinions expressed by Bill Crittenden are not official policies or positions of The Crittenden Automotive Library. You can read more about the Library's goals, mission, policies, and operations on the About Us page. Topics:  Scion

Scion is Dead. This is a Good Thing.

Bill Crittenden
7 February 2016


Last week Toyota announced that Scion would be killed off as a marque and some of its vehicles would become Toyotas.

Legend has it that Scion was created to market small cars to younger buyers after the youth-friendly Toyota Echo became known as a grandma's car. Electronic music, a skater aesthetic, and millennial-oriented marketing was supposed to make the brand super cool among younger buyers and scare grandma back to the Buick booth at the auto show.

Long story short, it didn't work. The average teenager can't buy a brand new vehicle, and the overall market's average buyer age is over fifty for a reason: they're the ones with the money for new cars.

Scion's under-the-radar advertising kept their cars out of the minds of a huge number of potential buyers, but the kids they were reaching didn't have the money for new cars.

The original boxy xB was its only real mainstream success, and it's average buyer age was well over the brand's target market:

"According to R.L. Polk data, the average tC coupe buyer in 2007 was 43.5 years old. Last year the average tC buyer was 47. Similar aging patterns followed the xB and xD hatchbacks as well. Still, those buyers are spring chickens compared with the average Toyota Camry buyer, who was 60 in 2011."
Source: AutoWeek


By moving Scion's cars to Toyota's advertising, where far more people will see them, is a good decision that will help them sell more cars to people who didn't have Scion on their minds before.

This will also help more potential buyers find these former Scions. Especially the small iM wagon, essentially a Corolla wagon and replacement for the Toyota Matrix, which makes it an excellent vehicle for all sorts of businesses and small families. Under Scion, iM marketing was almost invisible to this 35-year old.

The FR-S is not only an exceptionally fun, affordable car that can drift at low speeds, but in other markets it's Toyota name is or includes the number 86, making it the successor to the AE86 Corolla, a legendary car among drift fans. Even as a Toyota FR-S it stands to gain more attention, and hopefully it'll become the Toyota 86 or GT86 soon.

This brings affordable performance back to the Toyota lineup, which has been missing since the demise of the Celica.

The iA and tC could help bolster Toyota's economy offerings, which had been otherwise been limited to the Yaris and Corolla.

Sure, all these cars were available at Toyota dealerships thanks to their dealership-within-a-dealership model, but when I went to look at a new Toyota Matrix and considered the Scion xB, it meant finding a different salesman and an entirely different sales procedure and an explanation of the different pricing structure and accessory buying system. I liked the Scion way a lot, but I understand how buying one could be confusing to a lot of shoppers.

The differentiation between Lexus and Toyota is more clear-cut and simple, and makes a lot more sense.

Hopefully all the folks who were working on Scion or racing under Scion sponsorship will be able to transfer over to Toyota as cleanly as the car models are going to.

Perhaps now after seeing the utter failure of marketing to youth time and time again, now automakers will look at their aging buyers and finally try and go the other way and make a brand for older drivers?

Oh, and one bit of advice for automakers wanting to market to young buyers: we'd rather buy a used normal-sized car than a tiny new car. Work on your Certified Preowned programs to get us into your brands and work us up to a new car later.



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