Scion was a marque of Toyota started in 2003 designed as an extension of its efforts to appeal towards younger customers.
The Scion brand primarily featured sports compact vehicles (primarily badge engineered from Toyota's international models), a simplified "pure price" model, and eschewed trim levels in favor of offering a single trim for each vehicle with a range of factory and aftermarket options for buyers to choose from to personalize their vehicle. The Scion name, meaning the descendant of a family or heir, refers both to the brand's cars and their owners. The brand first soft launched in the United States at selected Toyota dealers in the state of California in June 2003, before expanding nationwide by February 2004. In 2010, Scion expanded into Canada. In an effort to target the generation Y demographic, Scion primarily relied on guerrilla and viral marketing techniques.
Scion was originally launched with promises of short product cycle and value based partly on low dealer margins, which became difficult to keep as sales fell after the economic downturn. On February 3, 2016, Toyota announced that it would shut down the Scion brand in August 2016, with selected models to be re-branded to be part of new Toyota vehicles for the 2017 model year.
|Division of Toyota|
|Fate||Absorbed into Toyota|
|Founded||June 9, 2003|
|Defunct||August 5, 2016; 45 days ago|
|Headquarters||Torrance, California, U.S.|
|United States and Canada|
|Andrew Gilleland (VP, US)|
In 1999, Toyota launched Project Genesis, an effort to bring younger buyers to the Toyota marque in the United States. This project aimed to create a "marque within a marque" in sales and advertising strategy for compact and coupe models sold by Toyota. The effort, which included the introduction of the Toyota Echoeconomy car, along with late generation Toyota MR-2 and Toyota Celica models, was judged unsuccessful and cancelled in 2001. In response, Toyota chose to launch a separate marque, an effort called Project Exodus. A Los Angeles-based digital design company, Fresh Machine, was retained by Toyota to develop the brand, logo, and website. This project became known as Scion. Toyota had previously participated in a project in Japan with other Japanese companies who attempted to market products to younger buyers. Toyota manufactured three vehicles under the WiLL brandname, which were exclusive to Toyota NETZ Store Japanese dealerships.
Scion is marketed as a youth brand and was first introduced in March 2002, at the New York Auto Show. There were just two concept vehicles, the bbX (which became the xB), and the ccX (which became the tC). The 2004 xA and xB were unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show on January 2, 2003. They were available only in 105 Toyota dealerships in California at their initial launch on June 9, 2003. The subsequent rollout of the brand to the South, the Southeast, and the East Coast occurred in February 2004. Scion vehicles were available nationwide in June 2004, coinciding with the release of the 2005tC. On December 16, 2006, Scion unveiled the next-generation xB, based on the t2B concept, and the new xD, successor of the xA, at an invitation-only, no-camera event in Miami. Both cars were then publicly unveiled on February 8, 2007 at the Chicago Auto Show.
In September 2010, Scion expanded into Canada,with vehicles offered at 45 selected dealers starting in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, followed by other cities. Launch models included the tC, xD, and xB. The first new Scions were shown in Canada at the 2009 Montreal International Auto Show.
Sales of the Scion brand were down to a low of 45,678 for the 2010 model year, compared to over 170,000 for 2006. The management tried to resuscitate the brand, hoping to sell 35,000 to 45,000 tC in a year after the model was redesigned for 2011. The iQ's sales have dropped more than 60% from 2012, and the xD's sales are projected to be under 9,000 for 2013. In late 2013, Toyota announced that Toyota dealers can drop the flagging Scion marque without penalty (though this could be a step away from the previous penalties of not adhering to the "Pure Price" policy within Scion).
In 2015, Scion released the iM hatchback, based on the international Toyota Auris. and the iA sedan, based on the Mazda Demio. At the same time, the iQ, xB, and xD were discontinued.
On February 3, 2016, Toyota announced that the Scion brand would be phased out after the 2016 model year. The FR-S, iA, and iM will be re-badged as Toyota models Toyota 86, Yaris iA, and Corolla iM respectively, for the 2017 model year, while the tC will be discontinued entirely. The upcoming C-HR will be also rebranded as a Toyota. The change is not expected to cause disruption to service options, as Scion models were sold and serviced at Toyota dealerships.The Scion FR-S will be renamed as the Toyota 86 in North America instead of Toyota FR-S as was initially reported.
Scion currently has five models: the second-generation tC, a 3-door liftback based on the European-marketed Toyota Avensis sedan; the second-generation xB, a 5-door box-shaped compact wagon sold as the Toyota Corolla Rumion in the Japanese market; the iQ, an ultra-compact city car first going on sale in the western United States in December 2011; thexD, a 5 door-subcompact car that is sold in Japan as the second generation Toyota ist, which is based on the Yaris platform with the tenth-generation Corolla's engine; and a rear-wheel drive sport car, the FR-S.
In April 2012, Jack Hollis (Vice President of Scion) announced that the xB and xD will be dropped after 2012, supposedly in favor of all new models from Toyota's hatchback division, Daihatsu. In the meantime, Scion will focus its sales heavily on the iQ passenger car and the FR-S sports coupe, alongside the second generation tC. As of April 2013, both the Canadian and US Scion websites continued to sell the xB and xD with mild facelifts. Scion announced in June 2015 that the xB would be dropped from the lineup, presumably to make way for the forthcoming iM hatchback. On February 3, 2016, Toyota announced that it would discontinue the Scion brand in August 2016, with selected models to be re-branded as Toyota vehicles for the 2017 model year.
- Scion xA MY 2004–2006 (replaced by the xD)
- Scion xB MY 2004–2015
- Generation 1: MY 2004–2006
- Generation 2: MY 2008–2015
- Scion tC MY 2005–2016
- Generation 1: MY 2005–2010
- Generation 2: MY 2011–2016
- Scion xD MY 2008–2014
- Scion iQ MY 2012–2015
- Scion FR-S MY 2013–2016 (Rebranded as Toyota 86 for the 2017 model year.)
- Scion iA MY 2016 (Rebranded as Toyota Yaris iA for the 2017 model year.)
- Scion iM MY 2016 (Rebranded as Toyota Corolla iM for the 2017 model year.)
Pricing, accessories, and availability
Scion uses sales tools such as "Pure Price" and monospec trim levels with a wide selection of factory and TRD accessories. Extensive market research and testing with generation Y consumers formed the basis of the Scion badge.
"Pure Price" means that the price posted, whether on the vehicle, in an advertisement, or on a menu display board in the dealership, is the price customers will pay. This includes vehicles, accessories, finance and insurance products. Pure Price is designed to ensure a shorter and simpler process, eliminating all negotiation, though it is commonly seen that dealers will sometimes add aftermarket accessories to the car in order to mark them up and increase profit on the sale. The concept aims to be open and consistent to all customers. The concept is not new to the American market, having been introduced in the early 1990s by the Geo and Saturn marques of General .
Scion's sales approach thus differs greatly from that of the larger Toyota entity. In the United States, for instance, the Toyota Camry is offered with four different trim levels intended for different crowds (budget-conscious, mainstream, sports-oriented and luxury); all Scions, in contrast, have only one standard trim level (monospec) and are designed to be uniquely customized for the driver.
Scion offers about 150 different accessories; other after-market companies through the Optōmize Scion program offer to add other accessories, as well. For example, one can add a subwoofer as well as different types of decals. The tC had offered an optional supercharger to increase power from 161 to 200 hp (120 to 150 kW), but this option was since discontinued in 2007 due to early failure of the bearings inside the centrifugal blower. All accessories are sold individually, and do not require special packages. However, some options, such as Ground Effects, do prevent other accessories (such as mud flaps) from being installed.
Companies that participate in the Optōmize Scion program include GReddy, OBX, RÄZO, a few car detailing companies, and others.
Beginning in the second quarter of 2004 with the launch of the 2004 Scion xB RS 1.0 (Release Series 1.0), followed by the Scion xA RS 1.0, Scion decided to create limited edition vehicles pre-packaged with exclusive accessories in limited quantities. Limited Edition vehicles from a marketing standpoint were used to create a buzz for the brand name, with their exterior colors tending to be loud or bright hues (e.g. orange, yellow, red, blue, green). Because of the growing popularity of the Scion product line and the scarce production runs (most dealers only get 2-3 of each RS model), these limited edition vehicles quickly sold out. Pre-ordering is available at each dealership on a first-come, first-served basis. To the customer's benefit, Scion's "Pure Price" MSRP bounds dealerships against market-demand vehicle mark-up. Naturally, resale values of Release Series vehicles command a premium because of their packaged options and scarcity.
- xB RS 1.0 only available in Hot Lava Orange with 2100 units produced (504 units w/5spd, 1596 units w/automatic)
- xA RS 1.0 only available in Absolutely Red with 1550 units produced
- xB RS 2.0 only available in Solar Yellow with 2500 units produced
- xA RS 2.0 only available in Spectra Blue Mica with 1700 units produced
- tC RS 1.0 only available in Absolutely Red with 2500 units produced
- xB RS 3.0 only available in Envy Green with 2200 units produced
- xA RS 3.0 only available in Stingray Metallic light blue with 2500 units produced
- tC RS 2.0 only available in Blue Blitz Mica with 2600 units produced
- xB RS 4.0 only available in Maziora Torched Penny (polarized goldish brown) with 2500 units produced
- tC RS 3.0 only available in Blizzard White with 2500 units produced
- xB RS 5.0 only available in Gold Rush Mica with 2500 units produced
- tC RS 4.0 only available in Galactic Gray Mica with 2300 units produced
- xD RS 1.0 only available in Hot Lava Orange with 2000 units produced
- xB RS 6.0 only available in Absolutely Red with 2500 units produced
- tC RS 5.0 only available in Gloss Black with 2000 units produced
- xD RS 2.0 only available in Wasabi Green with 2000 units produced
- xB RS 7.0 only available in Murasaki Purple with 2000 units produced
- tC RS 6.0 only available in Speedway Blue with 1100 units produced
- xB RS 8.0 only available in Voodoo Blue with 2200 units produced
- xD RS 3.0 only available in xPRESSO with 1500 units produced
- xB RS 9.0 only available in Hot Lava with 1500 units produced
- xD RS 4.0 only available in Blizzard Pearl with 800 units produced
- tC RS 7.0 only available in High Voltage Yellow with 2200 units produced
- tC RS 8.0 Only available in Absolutely Red with 2000 units produced
- FR-S RS 1.0 Only available in Yuzu Yellow with 1500 units produced
- tC RS 9.0 Only available in Two-Tone Black/Orange color with 2000 units produced.
- FR-S RS 2.0 Only available in a khaki color called "Lunar Storm" with 1000 units produced.
The median age of a Toyota consumer was, as of February 2007, 54 years old. Comparatively, Scion's average buyer age is the lowest in the industry, at 39 years old.
Initially, Scion's first two cars (the xA and xB), while unusual for American roads, have been well received among consumers not interested in standard entry-level vehicles. The tC was also well received with brisk sales.
The best selling year of the marque since introduction was 2006 with 173,000 vehicles sold. But sales slid since then to 57,961 vehicles in 2009. By 2010, the tC has become the mainstay of the brand, accounting for over 40% of all Scion sold since the brand was established. In the U.S., sales of the xB have been dropping after the introduction of the second generation, from a peak of over 60,000 to 17,017 in 2011; sales of the xD fell to 9,573 in 2011 from 32,603 in 2006.
Over a million Scion-branded cars were sold. Over 70% were sold to people new to Toyota and just over 50% of the cars sold were to people under the age of 35. Buyers of the tC has the average age of 29, the lowest average age in the industry.
To advertise Scion, Toyota began a promotional campaign using a form of guerrilla marketing, using posters and ads in movie theaters and TV to direct consumers to its various "want2bsquare" web sites. Scion's marketing endeavors extended to sponsorships, such as that of VBS.tv's show, Thumbs Up!, which features David Choe hitchhiking across the United States. Scion sponsored two commercials featuring Concours race car driver Matt Verbin during the Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance, which show him racing a custom painted yellow and orange xB on Cambridge streets. Scion also teamed with Gaia Online, providing the xB,xD, and tC as a choice for user cars, as well as other things across the site.
Scion also uses smaller, regional viral campaigns to reach niche demographics. Online campaigns such as Scion x Pressionism allow a user to modify and design their own Scion with graphics, decals, and aftermarket car parts. Online advertising, much of it quirky and offbeat, is part of Scion's marketing mix for both these campaigns and for the launch of new models. Shows like Slick's Picks go around the country interviewing artists, stores, and events; and puts short videos on the site. Scion Radio 17 is an internet-radio initiative that features 17 non-mainstream channels, ranging from rock and hip hop to electro and soul. Scion AV serves as the brand's lifestyle marketing initiative, funding projects in music, art, and film.
In August 2008, Scion released the "United by Individuality" ad campaign, featuring over 300 Scion owners' vehicles in various magazine articles, commercials, and billboards. The latest commercial video shows a convoy of Scions parading through the desert in Boulder City, Nevada. These videos and ads can be seen on Scion's website.