As I bent down to get a better look at the FT-1’s rear three-quarter, I could see the Scion display in the background, far away and slightly out of focus-an ironic metaphor for a brand that had nothing new on display at the show. Their product line, aside from the FR-S, was aging and seemed to lack any of the real quirkiness the brand had when it was launched.
This got me thinking – what exactly was the point of Scion today? Toyota’s marketing of the Corolla seems targeted at the same buyer that would have traditionally considered a Scion – fun, youthful, charismatic and a bit on the odd side. (Notice, I didn’t use ‘hipster’!)
The Sales Data
Scion isn’t doing well. Actually they’re doing horrible.
Sales in 2013 were down 60% from a high in 2006. But not to worry Mr. Toyoda, I have a solution!
1. (Quietly) Kill Scion.
Yes, it’s time to cut the brand loose. Sales are faltering and other than FR-S, the brand doesn’t appear to have any product that will save it.
2. Replace Scion with Prius
Prius has become synonymous with fuel-efficiency and being green. Since the brand expanded the lineup with C and V, they’ve dwarfed Scion’s best year by 60,000 models. Making Prius a standalone brand will allow Toyota to further define and hone the consumer message on efficiency and explore new product offerings.
3. Build Prius CUV, Prius FR-E (EV FR-S) and small (very) light-duty ‘van’
Now that Prius is a standalone brand it needs just a few more products. The first is a capable CUV that could be loosely based on the RAV4, but should be redesigned to maintain the Prius aerodynamics and style as best as possible.
Second, consider an EV-powered version of the FR-S. Replace the Subaru engine with a performance-oriented EV package. Allow FR-S to fall under the Toyota brand during its mid-model refresh as a medium-priced ‘fun’ car to set under whatever the FT-1 will become.
If Toyota can make a business case for a larger MPV, designed more for delivery (Postal Service, delivery, etc) explore a bare bones HFE-MPV (50MPG+) delivery vehicle.
Have you lost your mind?
No,well, maybe. But Toyota certainly has if they think they can revive Scion to any level of relevancy. The FR-S was a valiant effort, but lets be real, it’s a niche product whose supply will soon meet demand.
Fuel economy isn’t only important for CAFE, but also for consumers. With an almost inevitable gas tax increase and some form of global conflict always on the horizon, fuel economy will always be important to those who think beyond the now. But high MPGs is just a small part of what the Prius brand could become.
In my vision, Prius would become a sustainable lifestyle brand, offering not just cars but other products and technologies in the area of transposition, sustainability and overall efficient/green living. The goodwill benefits of running a sustainable lifestyle brand would outweigh what, if any, benefits Scion could currently offer Toyota Motors Corporation.