What Happened to Toyota's Scion Brand?

Hannah DeWitt
Dec 3, 2021 · 3 min read
Drivers who were young in the early 2000s likely remember Scion, a car brand created by Toyota that debuted in 2003. Instead of trying to make a car that all generations love, Scion was deliberately designed to attract young drivers. 
Despite having some unique designs and an affordable sports car, Scion ultimately failed. We’re here to tell you why with some help from MotorBiscuit.
White Scion coupe
Toyota wanted Scion to cater to young Millennial drivers.

The birth of Scion

Toyota is well known for making cars that attract younger drivers. Just ask anyone who grew up in the ‘80s about the beloved MR2. As Gen Xers were packing up for the suburbs to start families, Toyota decided it was time to start targeting millennials, and out came Scion. 
Market research showed that millennials hate haggling over car prices. With that in mind, Scion decided that all Scion models would be sold haggle-free at a fixed price. Additionally, the cars themselves had unique designs that were unlike anything else at the time.
Initially, the Scion brand was quite successful. In its first year, over 170,000 Scion models were sold. It seemed that Scion would be the new powerhouse on the block, but they were eventually derailed. 

Why did Scion fail?

In any industry, success often results in being copied by the competition. That's what happened to Scion when Kia came out with the Soul, which looks oddly similar to the Scion xB. While Scion had a huge budget for viral marketing, they weren't able to top the Soul's dancing hamsters. 
The Kia Soul was able to steal a lot of attention from Scion, but it wasn't the death blow yet for Toyota's hip subsidiary. That would come in 2008 in the form of the Great Recession. 
On one hand, millennials had to become frugal in order to stay on top of student loan payments in the flailing economy. Few could even think of buying a new car while the economy was in a downward spiral. On the other hand, Scion was committed to having a haggle-free fixed price. As car dealers were also struggling, front-line salespeople were less eager to promote a car that had a fixed commission. 
According to MotorBiscuit, only 45,000 Scions were sold in 2010, a huge decline from its debut year. In 2012, Scion tried to introduce new models to attract a wider market. These new models didn't gain any buzz, and it seemed that younger drivers started to prefer the Toyota brand over Scion. In 2016, Scion was officially discontinued.  

The legacy of Scion

While the Scion brand is gone, its legacy can still be seen in present-day Toyotas. Take for example the FR-S, the affordable sports car from Scion. While you can no longer buy a new Scion FR-S, you can get a Toyota 86. It's not a coincidence that the 86 debuted at the same time the FR-S was discontinued. 
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