By on January 18, 2014

Scion-Lead

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

Screen Shot 2014-01-18 at 12.16.06 PM

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.

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126 Comments on “The Case For Killing Scion And Setting Prius Free...”


  • avatar
    ehaase

    The FR-s should be rebadged the Celica. I would also like to see a Corolla hatchback or wagon sold in the U.S.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      They tried. For a decade. It was called the Matrix. Toyota rolled the Matrix sales numbers into the Corolla. It never sold well. American buyers as a group don’t like wagons, and poo-poo hatches.

      Why, I don’t know. Maybe as a product of the early 80′s I’m still fond of hatchbacks. They can be designed to hide the “hatch” and look like the have a trunk (the Mazda6 5-door did this well) and are extremely practical.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        Ironically, Scion’s own tC has such a hidden hatch setup – and has not been their most successful product.

        • 0 avatar

          Actually tC was their most successful product for about 3 years before FR-S. Cratering of 2gen xB made it so. In 2011 tC posted 22k sales, xB made 17k, xD – 9k. Of course if you compare tC with original xB, with which it briefly coexisted, then it was’s the most successful product back then. But it was a long time ago.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I think the problem with the Matrix is that it is dorky looking more than that it is a wagon/hatch. It just has never been a remotely attractive car, though a quite practical one. It also was a bit spendy, as I recall. I see almost nothing BUT Focus hatches around here, so it is possible to sell a decent looking hatch.

      • 0 avatar
        anti121hero

        I love hatchbacks, but there’s only a few modern ones that really catch my interest. For examole, I drive a nissan versa hatch for work and I absolutely hate it. Hatch is almost useless, styling is bland and ugly, and it has less power than my 15 year old saturn. But there are desirable offerings from vw and Mazda out there.

        • 0 avatar

          What are you trying to put in that Versa?! I own a 2007, and yeah, it’s not at all fast, but it seems to have infinite storage space considering what a small car it is. It doesn’t have a flat load floor with the seats down, though, (score one for the Fit) and the first thing I did was remove the privacy panel from the hatch area, because it greatly limits utility (I guess it goes without saying I don’t live in a place with high levels of property crime).

          With regard to making Prius its own brand: why? My impression is it creates a nice halo for the rest of Toyota’s offerings, and that Toyota sees green cars (be they hybrid, hydrogen, EV, or whatever) as something like the future for all of their cars, not a specialty offering.

          Here in Canada, land of the $5 gallon, most of the local taxis are now Priuses, with the PriusV clearly the new hotness.

          • 0 avatar
            Lorenzo

            Your gas taxes are higher than the US, especially in Quebec/Montreal, but even there, the pre-tax price is high compared to the US. Considering Canda is an oil-exporting country, Canadians need to find out how to get the benefit from domestically produced fuels(hint: eliminate the VAT on refining). Until then, you can get away from the $1.878/gal tax rate in Quebec by moving to Yukon, where the total tax bite is only 64.4 US cents per gallon, even less than California!

          • 0 avatar
            Featherston

            A coworker of mine has the same generation Versa hatchback, and the back seat is incredibly spacious, both in terms of legroom and headroom. I’ve never driven it and can’t speak as to its other qualities, but on the basis of its back seat alone I think it’s a hugely underappreciated design.

            When I sat in the current generation at an auto show last year, I was disappointed but not surprised to find the packaging inferior to its predecessor. It’s still better than the vast majority of cars on the North American market, though.

      • 0 avatar
        rdchappell

        The 2nd gen Matrix was overpriced mediocrity. At 16K a basic Corolla is fine. That same Corolla in hatch form for 21K? Not so much. When VW has you beat on value there’s something off. It’s as if Toyota wanted the Matrix to fail.

      • 0 avatar
        gottacook

        A TTAC comparison test from 4 or 5 years ago, of the second-gen Matrix versus the (2008-11) Subaru Impreza, made abundantly clear that the Matrix was a claustrophobic penalty box. Also, its awkward driving position (for some people) was unchanged from the first-gen Matrix.

        • 0 avatar
          rdchappell

          I drove the first generation Vibe and it was fine. The driving position and seat height didn’t bother me, as that and the overall size was very similar to the Subaru Forester, which I like. Pretty good visibility, decent price, good on gas for a wagon type vehicle. They lost all of that on the second gen which is also around the time that hatchbacks started to be offered again (there were hardly any in the early 2000s) that had actual value.

          • 0 avatar

            Sadly the quality of NUMMI was rather substandard. I had Vibe for rent once and opened the hood. You know, to check the oil. As soon as I closed it, the improperly installed hood lock went through and created and “opposite dent”. I don’t know much about Tacomas that they made previously, but Vibes clearly weren’t real Toyotas.

          • 0 avatar
            CelticPete

            Matrix was simply useless for me. It was incredibly painful to try to fit in. Granted I am taller then average but it was one of those Japanese car for the Japanese.

      • 0 avatar
        Volt 230

        The old Corolla wagon sold poorly as well, you would think a small wagon would be the answer for those who need some room but don’t want a big vehicle, but it barely sold, ditto for the Camry Wagon.

      • 0 avatar
        djsyndrome

        Seat-of-the-pants observation here, but the first generation Matrix sold just fine. It was also a great little car; I took an ’03 XRS through 250k miles with little fuss. It was relatively light, had a huge amount of space inside, and was cheap to buy and run. And that little 2ZZ Yamaha winding up was a pure joy (it’s probably the last decent motor to ever go into a Toyota, at least here in NA).

        When it was time for the second generation they screwed it up just like the XB: added weight, destroyed the styling, numbed the handling, changed the seats from pretty good to terrible couch chairs and dropped an uninspired Camry engine under the hood. Sales went through the floor. Toyota attempting to charge 26k for the AWD versions (WRX territory!) didn’t help either.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Scion has been fairly successful at having its sales skew toward young buyers. (Of course, much of the youth market has ignored it, so it isn’t all good news.) The brand has some modest potential as the economic recovery continues, just so long as TMC doesn’t continually lose the plot by indulging in mission creep and offering too many vehicles. The lineup should be limited, and focused strictly on youth, with prices and financing programs to match.

    Prius is a great halo for Toyota. Spinning off the core of Toyota’s brand identity would be a mistake.

    A RAV4 hybrid would make more sense. Toyota doesn’t need to have two compact crossovers competing against each other.

    • 0 avatar
      Juan Barnett

      Doesn’t the Matrix overlap in some areas with Prius C?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        The Matrix has been discontinued in the US and will be discontinued in Canada.

        The Matrix probably stopped making sense following the GM BK. Without Pontiac helping to pick up some of the costs, there isn’t enough volume to justify keeping it.

        • 0 avatar
          Juan Barnett

          Ah, that’s right. Sounds like things should remain as is for the foreseeable future for TMC.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            I do think that it’s fair to ponder whether Scion is more of a drag than a benefit.

            Scion has a bit of potential. But it could be fairly argued that the energy would be better invested in making the Toyota brand more appealing to youth.

            The ghost of the Echo lingers on. That was intended to be a youth car, but TMC completely missed the target and ended up selling them to old codgers. In a sense, Scion was a form of surrender; instead of addressing what was missing in Toyota, it gave up and decided to start over.

          • 0 avatar

            I was a child when this happened, but didnt Toyota have some ill-fated strategy to lure in younger buyers with the MR2 Spyder, Celica and Echo?

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            The Echo replaced the Tercel and the Paseo. I believe that Toyota was disappointed with the average age of those Tercel and Paseo buyers, and expected the Echo to do better with the young crowd. But that effort failed miserably.

            Scion has done well with having a low average age of buyers. It obviously hasn’t done well with moving a lot of metal.

            I’d be curious to see some data about Scion’s ability to produce conquests for the Toyota brand; that could be a good reason to keep it.

          • 0 avatar
            Richard Chen

            The strategy was called Project Genesis:

            http://www.autonews.com/article/19990830/ANA/908300762#axzz2qnu3MOc8

            And ended a few years later, with Scion taking its place:

            http://www.autonews.com/article/20040716/REG/407160705/toyota-to-kill-celica-mr2-spyder#axzz2qnu3MOc8

          • 0 avatar
            Jellodyne

            PCH, the Echo is the 1st generation Toyota Vitz, and the Yaris is the second and third generation of the same. The Echo didn’t go away, just improved and renamed.

          • 0 avatar
            walker42

            “The ghost of the Echo lingers on. That was intended to be a youth car, but TMC completely missed the target and ended up selling them to old codgers.”

            Toyota USA was adamant that the Vitz as a hatchback only would not sell because “Americans like sedans”. That’s how the Echo was born. They thought kids would go for it because it was cheap. Kids avoided it because it was ugly which left it still cheap but only acceptable to those who didn’t care about styling (the old).

            The mistake wasn’t that the market didn’t need a brand called Scion from a company called Toyota it was that Americans would want a sedan at that price no matter how bad it looked. You can imagine the disgusted designers in Japan… “you want a 4-door notch we’ll give you one.”

            Architecture that starts as a hatchback does not lend itself well to a sedan. Ford has the same issue with the Fiesta but was targeting older folks with the 4-door, younger with the 3 and 5-doors. That’s how it’s done.

            Ancient history though. All Toyota needs to do is create offshoots from the FRS – a diesel shooting brake would be perfect.

            You are right about Prius though. Without that the Toyota brand would be nothing.

        • 0 avatar

          Matrix/Vibe was one of my favorite cars, a nice blend of economy and AWD. I never understood why consumers didn’t embrace that car.

          • 0 avatar
            Eyeflyistheeye

            The reason people didn’t like the Matrix was that the interior and exterior styling looked ridiculously cheap, the materials inside were a step down from its Corolla sister and the pricing was absolutely terrible.

            I had a 2009 Matrix as a rental that year. While I liked its economy and even the driving dynamics, the interior materials and exterior design reeked of cheapness, all the more galling when the EU/JP Auris was such a nice car.

            Last year, I briefly considered the Matrix, but it was unacceptably priced with the lowest I could get one for being $19.5k for a strippo base model with a manual transmission, and no cruise control. $1k more gets me into an Accord or Camry and a better-equipped Focus is the same price.

          • 0 avatar
            Truckducken

            Let’s not forget the handling and road feel were pathetic. I really wanted to like this car but it was godawful.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        The Prius C is Yaris size. The Matrix was Corolla size, like the current xB and the regular Prius.

        • 0 avatar
          rdchappell

          Prius is somewhere between the Corolla and Camry.

          • 0 avatar
            racer-esq.

            The regular Prius is on the same wheelbase as the Corolla and shorter than the Corolla:

            http://autos.msn.com/research/compare/exterior.aspx?c=0&i=0&tb=0&ph1=t0&ph2=t0&dt=0&v=t119901&v=t119415&v=t119095&v=t117228&v=t116878

    • 0 avatar
      gsnfan

      Didn’t Scion have a lot of older buyers, since the xB had easier ease of entry/exit?

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        Scion has the lowest average buyer age in the US.

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Sort of. The xB specifically has a very high age demographic, much higher than what Toyota hoped. This was due to great visibility, easy entry/exit, budget price, fuel sipping, and a sense of I’ll be cool with the grandkids.

        Scion’s overall brand demographic is “young,” but with the average new car buyer being 51 years old (do a search Polk) and Toyota’s average buyer at 52 – it’s all kind of relative.

        The brand with the youngest buyer demographic is VW and Range Rover, 48 years old if I remember correctly. Polk rolled Scion into Toyota in the data they collected.

        So both you and pch101 are “correct.”

        • 0 avatar
          Pch101

          According to R.L. Polk, in August (2012), the average tC coupe buyer was 47 years old, while the xB and xD averages were 49 and 50. But those data track the average buyer, who could be a father co-signing a loan for his child. Scion says it tracks the ages of the drivers. Murtha says the average tC driver is 27 while the overall brand’s average driving age is 37.

          (Average age of xB buyers was 45 in 2007.)

          http://www.autonews.com/article/20121029/OEM02/310299981

          The cars skew younger, no doubt about it. That doesn’t mean that all of the buyers are young, or that the brand is particularly strong, but the demography cannot be denied, even by this website’s dedicated band of anti-Toyota posters.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    The point of Scion was for Toyota to experiment with weird freaky cars without tarnishing the Toyota brand. Scion was perfect for the iQ experiment. Selling the GT86, a classic sports car and halo car, as a Scion is ridiculous.

    My understanding is that Toyota gave Scion the GT86 to keep Toyota dealers from abandoning Scion, but Toyota should have just let the dealers abandon Scion. An experimental sub-brand does not have to be sold at every Toyota dealership.

  • avatar

    RE: “Scion has been fairly successful at having its sales skew toward young buyers.”

    Yea, both of them.

    RE: “Of course, much of the youth market has ignored it, so it isn’t all good news.)”

    Was Toyota ever surprised when their customers turned out to include a large mix of “Geritol Setters.”

    RE: “The brand has some modest potential as the economic recovery continues, just so long as TMC doesn’t continually lose the plot by indulging in mission creep and offering too many vehicles.”

    Yup, the brand has about the same potential as Saturn had. The sales model for SCION just doesn’t work. If the sales model doesn’t work, the OEM won’t supply it with fresh product when the same product supplied to the working sales model provides real ROI. The math is easy on this. To maintain Moral Motors sales model “integrity” cheap deals are turned away. The fat deals aren’t made because the profit is never requested because of the sales model. Instead of being made up in volume the result is weak sales, weak gross profit, weak market share, and waning dealer and OEM commitment. If happy owners is your goal, by all means, invest your money in SCION and ignore other options that actually produce ROI. Its your money Mr. Entrepreneur, you decide.

    RE: ” The lineup should be limited, and focused strictly on youth, with prices and financing programs to match.”

    Yup, they should have turned away those Geritol Setters that came to them in higher numbers because turning away business is good business.

    RE: “Prius is a great halo for Toyota. Spinning off the core of Toyota’s brand identity would be a mistake.”

    PRIUS is a great car if you ignore the really poor driving dynamics, the inefficiency of having two drive lines in the same vehicle, and the fact that it has been such a “feast or famine” vehicle pegged to the price of gasoline. Resale value has been all over the board. But CAFE dictates it and Toyota got out in front of everyone on hybrids. I drove one in Japan in 1997 and was impressed by the instant torque of the electric motors. The dashboard was like a gum ball machine. Back then, I’d see PRIUSs all over the service departments with battery issues. Toyota can be proud of pioneering the segment but these things just drive like crap because of lousy weight distribution caused by the battery packs. The only hybrids or EVs worth driving IMHO are made by TESLA. But I tend to more sensitive to driving dynamics than most. The average driver cares little for what is important to me.

    • 0 avatar
      anti121hero

      +1

    • 0 avatar
      b787

      Since battery packs are in the rear, they should bring the weight distribution closer to 50:50. I think poor driving dynamics of the Prius have more to do with tyres, suspension and steering. Have you driven Ford Fusion Hybrid or Lexus GS450h?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Your last line sums it up. That is why the Camry is the #1 selling car in the country, most people just don’t care what their car drives like. Most have never driven anything better anyway. Even my Mom, a Prius-V owner who has owned Saabs, Audis, and a Porsche or three says her car is awful to drive, but she loves the practicality of it – it is simply a perfect fit for her current life of carting around 90-something parents and small dog, and shopping and whatnot on a small income, at 45mpg. She borrows my Abarth once in a while for fun. :-)

      I agree that the Prius is a GREAT transportation appliance. If I had a long stop and go commute I would have one in the stable. Driving dynamics don’t mean much at 15mph. But the reality is that if *I* had a commute like that, I would change jobs or move. But not many people have that flexibility.

      As I have said in many different postings here – why do car makers continue to have this expectation that young people will buy new cars? For the most part they never have, at least in the past 25-30 years, and they certainly are not starting now. They don’t have any money! And used cars are too good.

      So I too agree with half of this posts premise. Ditch Scion, but keep the Prius a Toyota – it is the ultimate embodiment of Toyotas brand values of efficient boring transportation modules at every price point.

      The sad thing is that the Prius doesn’t have to suck to drive. The Ford CMax has fundamentally the same drivetrain, and it is delightful.

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      “the inefficiency of having two drive lines in the same vehicle”

      Tell this to the millions of drivers regularly getting 40-50 mpg under any driving circumstance, with very high drivetrain reliability. I used to think this, too, but the passage of time has shown that such drivetrains can hold up pretty well.

      “The only hybrids or EVs worth driving IMHO are made by TESLA.”

      My Leaf isn’t so bad, but it’s not a $60-100k sports sedan, either.

    • 0 avatar
      jpolicke

      Advertising for Scion was always aimed strictly at young buyers. To me all their spots were incomprehensible, as if recorded at a frequency too high to be detected by over-40 ears. Yet I bought my TC at the youthful age of 52, and an even-older associate bought one because he was so impressed with mine. Those first generation TCs were really nice cars to drive, with a bulletproof Camry powertrain. They sold pretty well and kept impressive resale value. Then they ruined it. Look at a first gen TC and tell me they don’t resemble a 2-door IS250; then look at the post-’11 restyle with the cheapened up interior and that horrible roofline and tell me you don’t understand why sales crashed.

      Everything you say about the Prius may be true, but they still sell like crazy. Nobody pushes them hard enough for the handling characteristics to become noticeable.

    • 0 avatar
      jimbob457

      “the fact that it (the Prius)has been such a “feast or famine” vehicle pegged to the price of gasoline”

      You raise an excellent point that, imo, deserves some elaboration. EV and hybrid sales depend on high gasoline prices and continued government subsidies. These, in turn, depend on a continuation of a global petroleum industry characterized by both high prices and vulnerability of supply. This is not how things appear to be shaping up.

      Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a new mining technique that has completely revolutionized the oil and gas production industry. The bugs are currently being worked out in Texas (Eagle Ford and Wolfcamp shale) and North Dakota (Bakken shale). Production increases from just these two small areas (alpha test sites if you will) have increased global oil production by around 3% over the course of a couple of years. All this from land once considered to be almost totally mined out.

      Bottom line is that we appear to be headed toward $50-70 oil (today’s dollars) with no vulnerability of supply for North America. Vulnerability for many other regions should begin to diminish as fracking spreads across the globe over the next several decades. EV’s and hybrids in Japan, sure. EV’s and hybrids in North America, I wouldn’t bet on it.

      • 0 avatar
        tonycd

        Fracking will do wonders for the supply of oil at the wellhead. Its effect on the supply of clean water from your faucet, not so much.

        • 0 avatar
          ttacgreg

          I have read that fracking fields’ production fall off quite rapidly unlike wells of the past.

          • 0 avatar
            jimbob457

            With fracking you get to build your own reservoir, so since time is money, you build one that drains quickly. Initial production is typically about 10 times that of conventional wells in an area, but it does fall off very, very much faster.

            This is really not such a big deal. You just have to drill some more and frack some more to maintain or increase production. The economics of this will be, well, whatever they will be. The resource base for fracking is huge and virtually untouched so far, so its long term potential is just gigantic. The difference in production decline rates is just a technical issue for analysts.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          This is why debugging the operation in the wilds of North Dakota and west Texas is such an important first step. Proper water management is critical to avoid damage to the environment. If it can’t be done, then fracking will die out and good riddance to it.

  • avatar

    Speaking of Gen Y:

    http://www.deloitte.com/view/en_US/us/Industries/Automotive-Manufacturing/automotive-study/e9f312164f345310VgnVCM3000001c56f00aRCRD.htm

    There seems to be am emphasis on hyrbid here to the ignoring of diesel, the solution favored in Europe for a variety of reasons. Who needs a hybrid when you can get 40 – 50 plus MPG for a diesel that is actually fun to drive? The diesel doesn’t need a battery pack replacement at 100K and is just getting warmed up when huge costs hit the hybrid.

    • 0 avatar

      Ruggles,

      From this Gen Yers POV, hybrids have cachet, diesel is what powers the city transit bus.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        You need to get out more. :-)

      • 0 avatar
        Vojta Dobeš

        Plus, while hybrid needs a battery pack at 100k, diesels will encounter at least one of following around 120k:
        - injectors failure
        - high-pressure fuel pump failure
        - turbo failure
        - DPF failure

        Which ultimately means that hybrid may be cheaper to service in the end.

        • 0 avatar
          golden2husky

          It is not uncommon to find high mileage hybrids in the junkyard with their original battery packs. The concern over battery life has been proven to not be much of a concern.

          And yes, the Prius handles horribly. My old K car handled better. Why Toyota does not offer some kind of suspension upgrade is beyond me. I would choose not to own a Prius – and give up that all important free pass to the HOV lane – because it is such an unsatisfactory drive.

          • 0 avatar
            bigdaddyp

            That’s true of the type of battery used in the Prii and other types like that. The jury is still out on the Litium batteries in the Volt and Tesla and Leaf. My guess is that the batteries in the Leaf and Tessla will fail much sooner than the ones in hybrids. Why? Mainly because the fully ev vehicles are much harder on the batteries than the plug in hybrids are.

          • 0 avatar
            Fonzy

            They do offer a suspension upgrade. It’s the Prius Plus kit. It includes larger forged wheels, lowering springs, and rear sway bar. I’ve even seen center chassis braces for sale. They say that this kit doesn’t drop the mpgs too much. Maybe a few mpg hit.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I prefer diesel too, but I also know a LOT of folks with Prius of the past two generations, and none of them has ever had to replace a battery pack. Toyota’s ultra-conservative battery use means they last a long, long time. Though like anything I am sure there are SOME that fail early. Honda’s early hybrid efforts were another story all-together. And even with an old Prius with a battery pack on its last legs, they still run OK, they just are not as efficient.

      I am the farthest thing from a Toyota fanbois you will EVER find, but I do admire their engineering. They just apply it in ways that mean less to me than to most.

    • 0 avatar
      rdchappell

      Show me all of these Prii having to replace their batteries at 100k. Outside of that, they are much simpler mechanically than any turbodiesel. But I realize it is fashionable to salivate over diesels at the moment, sooo..

    • 0 avatar
      mcs

      Hybrids are superior when it comes to dealing with heavy stop-and-go traffics. Aside from the superiority of it’s electric mode in heavy traffic, the regen brakes extend brake life. Over 100k of mostly stop-and-go in our Prius and the brakes are still good. Before that I think it’s predecessor was only getting 28k for brake life. Our battery is fine too. Still getting about 52 mpg without really trying.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      “Who needs a hybrid when you can get 40 – 50 plus MPG for a diesel that is actually fun to drive?”

      I see your point, but suspect most millennials would respond with, “Who wants a diesel when gasoline costs 80% of what diesel fuel does, and (depending upon where one lives) I get a state tax credit for a hybrid, and my peers all see hybrids as more eco-friendly, and (depends on the diesel) I don’t have to pay to fill a urea tank in addition to a fuel tank?”

      Not that I totally agree with that line of thinking, either. There are options if you want a fuel efficient vehicle, and for that we should be thankful. And over time, perhaps free markets (well, somewhat free) will allow sales numbers to determine which will become Beta, and which will survive as VHS. At least untIl the automotive equivalent of DVDs come along…

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      Way past 100k and the battery pack seems fine. Did have to replace that old-school 12v standby battery around 80k or so, but that was no different than any other battery. From what I hear, the Prius taxis here (200~250k miles) have never replaced a battery pack.

      In 120k of driving, my complete maintenance has been 24 or so oil changes, 4 engine air filters, a 12V battery, wiper blades, 2 sets of tires, and changing the antifreeze. As for fun, the Prius has plenty of torque and getting rid of the stock Goodyears make it a much more pleasant car to drive.

    • 0 avatar

      Diesel love over here has two reasons: More km’s to a tank, and more money for the government. Father state charges (huge taxes) way more to you if you own a diesel than the same car with a patrol engine. Most diesels seen here are company provided cars because of the km’s per tank. Taxes have gone up lately, because diesel cars are supposed to produce worse fumes than petrol, but I’m pretty sure it’s about the money. Result is three cil diesels all around with turbos. Private ownership of a diesel is only interesting if you drive enough (> 25.000 km’s per year, roughly), otherwise petrol is cheaper in the end.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      If you try to increase the percentage of diesel cars in the US you run into two problems: First, refining considerations – more diesel from crude oil means less gasoline. Second, using diesel you are in competition with all the heavy trucks, an increasing proportion of medium trucks, some pickups, and all the railroad locomotives. Diesel already costs more than gasoline in most places in the US. There’s a reason for that….

      I know that this economics stuff is boring, but you can’t get around it.

    • 0 avatar
      tekdemon

      You sound insanely out of touch with this demographic then. Most younger buyers tend to live in urban centers where there are transportation alternatives from public transport to cabs to uber to zipcar. When they do settle down and realize that carrying 50 pounds of groceries on the subway is a pain in the butt and they decide they need a car to shuttle groceries back from Costco they go with a hybrid because a hybrid does MUCH better in terms of mpg versus a diesel in urban environments, while costing the same or even less. On top of that there’s no obnoxious urea fluid to fill that’s near impossible to buy affordably in many urban areas (seriously, go try to find some urea fluid that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg in Manhattan), they don’t have to deal with traffic that can take HOURS in crowded busy urban areas just to go to a station that carries diesel, and finally gasoline is plain cheaper than diesel anyway and actually more efficient in terms of barrels of oil utilized. Your argument for diesel COMPLETELY IGNORES the realities of a Gen Y person living in an urban environment. Stop treating Gen Y folks as if they are idiots, they’re not, they’re an intelligent and innovative group of people who have already done a lot of cool high tech stuff, and if diesel made sense for their lives they would embrace it. If you live in an area with little traffic and all the available gas stations have diesel and you drive 200 miles at a go then wonderful. If you live in Europe where diesel is cheaper than gasoline due to taxation rates, or in a country with lax diesel refining rules where diesel is cheaper regardless then good for you although the disgusting fumes in those countries should still give you pause. For urban American consumers diesel makes about as much sense as a horse carriage. For high mileage drivers that take country roads all the time, people who need to tow stuff with a truck all the time, and maybe people who put a lot of miles on luxury sedans diesel makes sense (luxury cars drink premium so the price differential from diesel to gas is smaller).

      For the record I’m a physician in my thirties who lives near the massively traffic jammed urban center known as NYC and after doing significant amounts of research into diesels and hybrids the diesels cannot win in any practical metric whatsoever. Most of my more urban friends do not own cars at all and many never even learned to drive! In fact I was the only one of my friends from NYC to have my license at 17 because I was a car nut who couldn’t wait to drive. I keep telling them that they have to learn ASAP before they’re too old to ever be able to drive decently (but realize they need to for familial duties) but it just falls on deaf ears because they have no real use for driving yet.

      My next car will either be a hybrid or a conventionally powered car and I’ve yet to decide. I don’t drive quite that many miles per year but I might be doing more driving soon so it all hinges on that. I don’t know why car blog commenters all make it sound like a diesel is some perfect solution to efficiency, if they made sense people would buy them, to assume that the entire car market is wrong is delusional. And diesels are an Eco nightmare versus even conventional gasoline-one barrel of oil can be refined into 10 gallons of diesel or NINETEEN gallons of gasoline so if everyone drove diesels we’d actually need to refine more oil.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        You make some great points but your perspective is very urban and also point out most of your friends do not own cars at all because of their urban lifestyle.

        I’m not sure who wins in the diesel/gas debate, my issue with diesel/car is the mainstream way to get it in the US is wrapped in a VW which if you start looking around seems to be a few steps up from a Yugo in terms of overall build quality and reliability. I don’t feel comfortable buying a diesel BMW/Mercedes just because of general warranty factor and general expensive parts factor, maybe if I was in the eternal lease crowd I wouldn’t care as much. If you are a buy it and run-it-into-the-ground owner the hybrid seems to be more attractive, but I think if someone would build a diesel powerplant around a high quality product diesel becomes attractive. Stepping back from a technology standpoint, diesel spanks hybrid but fortunately for hybrid tech our gov’t and its endless regulatory arms hate diesel and artificially make is economically non viable outside of a niche.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    Keep it as a gateway for weird Japanese product. It is just product starved at the moment.

  • avatar
    beachjesus

    They will not kill off Scion any time soon. It will go dark for a year – year and a half then will come out with one or two new products – possibly replacing one or two current ones.

    The “new” tC actually has completly different driving dynamics than last year’s model – if you haven’t driven one, it has more spunk than before. Still not a thriller but more fun.

    What Scion has done is three things. It has the youngest buyer’s in the automotice world, it has brought buyers into a Toyota dealership who would never have even thought of coming close to a Toyota store, and it has kept an industry-high percentage of customers staying in a Scion, or moving into a Toyota or Lexus.

    Scion isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

    Prius won’t become it’s own brand either – Akio Toyoda has said as much. So while he is running things, they will all be Toyota models. He has also said Scion isn’t going anywhere.

  • avatar
    rickentropic

    It would be interesting to parse out the Xb as a subset of the total scion sales figures to see if the drop in Xb sales matched the intro of the 2nd generation (new and improved :-( Xb. TMC was Totally Market Clueless and destroyed an excellent & distinctive product when they did their 2nd G Xb makeover. Mazda should eat their “youth market” share for lunch even without a counter to the 1st G Xb. Toyota can make but not market cars.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Dear Juan,

    While what you’re saying seems to make sense, you’re overlooking two very typical market issues:

    1.) Any new product is going to see huge adoption for a short period of time. In the case of automobiles this is usually about 3 to 5 years. Once the market gets saturated for that particular vehicle, sales will plateau and even fall off to a sustainable level. Your chart proves this with the Scion and the Prius itself.

    2.) No product can maintain high growth without significant changes. The Prius exemplifies this by its almost-mirror image to the Scion, though the Prius’ higher price slowed the initial surge. With the new models of Prius, along with reduced pricing (albeit slight) it saw a short burst before leveling off again.

    However, you ignore one salient market that tends to buy the Scion almost as often as the ‘young buyer’ and is now essentially ignored as a ‘buying market’, and that’s the empty-nesters. Couples who no longer have a need for a family-sized car and may now be on a limited, fixed income are buying the Scion and similarly-sized cars for their economy and convenience. The Scion X-series is easy to drive, very economical (compared to larger cars) and offer surprising room in the back for groceries and DIY purposes like simple home repairs and hobbies. Almost half of the Scions I see in my area of the country (heavily populated) are driven by seniors. That said, it seems as many or more are now driving the Prius for its perceived in-town economy, though one of my own clients points out that his Prius is almost no better on the highway than his wife’s Hyundai Sonata, which he feels is more comfortable than his Prius. It’s advantage is strictly in city-style driving.

    If anything, should Toyota choose to drop the Scion brand, they should adopt all four existing models under the Toyota brand and drop their less popular equivalent models like the Yaris.

  • avatar
    krayzie

    They won’t get rid of Scion. The North American marketing dept. is too arrogant to admit defeat otherwise they wouldn’t have last this long. Besides the kids seem to love those ricer parts you can get that even carry a warranty.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Scion’s sales are in lockstep with Mitsubishi and Volvo (both are in jeopardy in the US), but Scion benefits from having the Toyota umbrella which offers economies of scale and lower per-brand overhead costs. Scion could last quite a while.

    I bought my xB1 at the age of 41. But the brand has fallen behind, and they have nothing I’d even consider buying today.

    • 0 avatar
      BuzzDog

      Good point about the comparison to, and contrast with, Mitsubishi and Volvo.

      In addition to the advantage of being under the Toyota umbrella, there’s also the advantage of having all dealerships dualed with that of the mothership, some parts commonality with Toyota, and sharing a parts network that delivers almost daily to the same dealerships that are shared with Toyota.

      By treating it as a hybrid of a line extension and a truly separate make, the additional cost of supporting the Scion brand is a pittance to a company the size of Toyota, as well as to its dealers.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Hey Juan, not sure if Juan Barnett is a pseudonym for Jack Baruth…But either way, welcome to TTAC, and just a minor editing note, you left out “see” and your hyphen + space didn’t turn into an em dash (shown below) or you’ll need a space after focus for an en dash:

    “I could the Scion display in the background, far away and slightly out of focus- an”

    shoud read:

    “I could see the Scion display in the background, far away and slightly out of focus—an”

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Scion as a brand should exist, it allows toyota to sell an image and a type of minimalist customizable car that is purposely a step below a regular toyota. There is clearly a market for it, as they are selling. They would not sell as toyotas, the auto mags would crucify them, and there’s a youth segment/older segment that buys on image that wouldn’t own a toyota. The biggest plus about scion is the standard DIN radios that can easily be changed out. Critique of each model:

    The xB needs to be redone, the kia soul is better in every single way.

    The TC is awesomely underated, I feel like it’s a modern embodiment of my third gen camaro RS v6 manual. I especially like the last generation with the chunky but smooth lines before they went and got all crazy on the headlights. I would happily drive one, I simply wish there was a 4 door version, and never lose the hatch.

    The FRS is awesome too, however, we all know it needs a turbo. Coming factory with a turbo is a big deal for those of us who live in California, as it’s not always as easy as just putting one if you wanna pass smog.

    The xA/xD are obviously city cars, I see them all the time around town.

    The iQ is a waste of money and should be killed with fire.

    • 0 avatar

      I dunno, I liked iQ more than Smart f2 (with the exception of poor headroom due to the tall seat). It’s basically a smart re-implementation of Smart. So iQ is a great option for someone who needs a very, very small car. There’s probably not a large number of people, but otherwise, I think it’s great. It would be even nicer if they brought the right side sliding door from one of their JDM cars.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    Prius V and RAV4 have similar cubis cargo capacity with the rears folded down. The V probably has more floor area than the RAV4. So not sure if it persuade anyone to switch camps though sitting up highway and AWD are pluses today.

    Toyota needs a diesel! Minus the Prius, VW sold more diesels than all hybrids combined. I don’t see this trend slowing this year with more diesels being available.

  • avatar

    One of the advantages of Scion is it lets Toyota have a fixed-price brand for people who hate haggling, while not requiring all it’s cars are sold no-haggle. Scion is fixed priced, and they’ve been pushing that in their “pure price” (ie no haggle) in ads. There is a chunk of the population that hates haggling on cars, and that alone makes Scion appealing to them. It’s pretty much the closest you can get to spec’ing out a car online and picking it up at the dealership, and that’s something a lot of buyers – especially younger buyers and female buyers – want.

    • 0 avatar
      bodayguy

      Yeah this is the one factor the article omits.
      I leased an FR-S last summer. The process was painless (outside my trade-in, of course).
      Nonetheless, sitting in the dealership, which had all the charm of a strip mall dollar store, I knew Scion had no other car I would EVER consider getting. The TC isn’t bad, but there are many alternatives. Everything else is cheap junk.

    • 0 avatar
      MrGreenMan

      Have you noticed that every no-haggle brand dies, yet CarMax can operate as a no-haggle used car shop and succeed, and TrueCar appears to be flourishing post legal troubles with the “True Car” price without haggling?

      Perhaps the no-haggle customer also wants variety? Or perhaps there’s an incidence rate of no-haggle customer in the population that is sizable across all brands but not big enough within any one brand/segment.

      • 0 avatar
        racer-esq.

        Some big differences:

        New cars are commodities within a make and model, used cars are not. CarMax has certain people convinced that it sells nicer used cars than other dealers (not true based on any cars I’ve ever seen at CarMax).

        CarMax does have the unique return policy.

        While CarMax is no-haggle, the prices are not fixed. If a car is not moving they will drop the price.

        CarMax dealerships are all owned by the same company, and within that.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Very interesting observation. I’ll explain how I think CarMax and something called CarSense (no haggle) around here operate.

        2007 Pontiac G6 GT Sedan/73K, I believe the 3500 V6, leather, sound package, moonroof, $9950. For a loaded car some people might bite, trouble is (1) miles are too high and (2) orphaned brand.

        http://www.carsense.com/used-car/2007-Pontiac-G6-GT-D03032A/

        If we go to the tape so to speak we see an outlier G6 GT at almost 9K, but as we go down the list we see 55, 5, another outlier probably damaged, 34, 47, and 45. So excluding oddball outliers we’ve got two in the $5-5500 range and three in the $3400-4500 range plus buy fees. So in average condition with no announcements you have about a $5,000 car with slightly higher mileage than our examples. Subtracting from the average to 73 might net you lets say $500, so that plus the typical buy fee you’re at 5750 to buy this at Manheim (other auctions may vary). Now this whole “new used” business is predicated on buying cars which need little to no additional maint outside of basic dealer prep, so your prep/maint cost per unit has to be fixed and low, say $500 (pads, tires, wax, labor to clean it). Now here’s where the real con comes in, sites like Kelly Blue Book allow consumers to look up used car values, I’m honestly not sure where their data comes from but the trouble with it is, its fiction.

        Go to Kelly blue book and type in a car, then select “Suggested Retail”. Notice below where you click the “get used car price” button it says at left “Kelley Blue Book assumes excellent condition for this price type”. No seven to eight year old car with 73K is in excellent condition, NONE of them. Good is as best as you can get. I’m trying to remember but believe Black Book uses extra clean, clean, average, rough for its criteria, and extra clean (showroom/near showroom) is not a possible rating once the vehicle goes over 20K. But consumers don’t understand this, nor do they understand what KBB is doing by default since the car is “retail”, because all retail is in showroom condition right? /sarc

        Low and behold, $10,390 for a $5-6000 dollar car. Say it ain’t so. Now let’s go back and choose “private party” and magically other condition types appear. I’ll choose “good” because this is where most 7-8yo cars kept outside with 73K fall. Geez $8,390, oh but look even in excellent condition my car is only worth $8965, so being at a dealer automatically add $1425 to value huh?

        Outfits like this rely on the fictitious information being provided by various websites, not to mention any additional monies made through financing. Their product comes from dealer only auctions, their own trades (which they will give you wholesale or less for), and trades purchased from new car dealers who operate under a different sales structure. The beauty of it all is they set a policy where by you the consumer either take it or hit the road.

        Now why this works and no haggle used such as Saturn does not I can’t really understand, maybe the margins/financing profit are not high enough? You can get a glimpse of the margins Carmax, Carsense, JB Byrider etc are working with based on the data I’ve provided here.

        http://www.kbb.com/pontiac/g6/2007-pontiac-g6/gt-sedan-4d/?condition=excellent&vehicleid=84181&intent=buy-used&mileage=73000&category=sedan&options=1772071|true|1772079|true|1772079|false|1772080|true&pricetype=retail

        12/26/13 CHICAGO Regular $8,800 58,599 Above RED 6G A No
        01/14/14 PHILLY Regular $5,500 73,886 Avg WHITE 6G A Yes
        12/31/13 ARENA IL Regular $5,000 82,138 Avg BLACK 6G A Yes
        01/09/14 FRDKBURG Lease $2,900 88,404 Below DK GREEN 6G No
        01/16/14 DETROIT Lease $3,400 92,406 Avg RED 6G A Yes
        12/31/13 DENVER Regular $4,700 94,140 Avg GREY 6G A Yes
        01/02/14 DFW Regular $4,500 95,680

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I don’t expect one-price shopping to become more than a niche in the car sales business, for a variety of reasons.

        On the other hand, it’s hard to use Scion and Saturn as ideal examples for evaluating the one-price model, as both of them have had greater issues with product. (If Scion allowed haggling tomorrow, does anyone honestly believe that sales of the existing models would skyrocket?)

        My guess is that a brand such as BMW could do well with it. It would probably take some gimmicks in order to make it palatable, such as an inflated MSRP that gets reduced with a “VIP package” (incentive program), but it could fit in well with the image.

        On the other hand, it would probably be a lousy way to sell Chevys or Hyundais. Without a haggle, many buyers won’t be convinced that they couldn’t have done better; in an odd way, negotiating can help to reduce buyer’s remorse.

        • 0 avatar
          walker42

          “I don’t expect one-price shopping to become more than a niche in the car sales business, for a variety of reasons.”

          One-price is pretty much what you see on TV with subvented lease rates from the OEs, like $199 a month for a Passat. Not only is the transaction price fixed (the lease payment) so are the dealer profit and financing terms.

          Customers realize what a great deal no haggle lease rates are, much better than flat out buying he car. That’s why manufactuers’ lease programs often make up 70%+ of the total sales.

          The OEs can pay for that by managing the disposal value of the car. They can get top dollar for the low mile returns as CPOs and charge penalties for high mileage or poor condition.

          When guys like Ruggles say the demand for leasing will always be there it is this kind of leasing, not the kind done by some guy at his desk trying to confuse the customer.

      • 0 avatar

        Carmax actually does have a handful of new car franchises, which also sell no-haggle. I bought my 2012 Pathfinder at the White Marsh MD store, which has a Nissan franchise. Price seemed fair (it was a leftover with huge discounts and rebates, and seemed in line with what other dealers were advertising), although the big selling point for me was it was close by and had one in the color/trim level I wanted.

  • avatar
    carguy

    While the Scion experiment appears to have run its course, I would caution against spinning off Prius as a separate entity. The biggest brand name asset that Toyota has is the Toyota brand and it needs to work on it rather getting sidetracked into further brand experiments. As a second priority they also need to continue to work on keeping Lexus from sliding into an Acura/Infiniti-like semi-luxury status. Two brands is plenty enough.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      You can’t really put Infiniti in that camp. Its cars are plenty luxurious; they just aren’t all that popular. Replace “Infiniti” with Lincoln, and you’ll have your analogy.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I like the Prius plan. Toyota should dump all their Toyota/Lexus hybrids and make specific chassis’ and models for the Prius brand.

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    I agree with this. Scion is a bit of a flop. I didn’t even know it existed as a brand until I saw one on Pimp My Ride.

  • avatar
    Eyeflyistheeye

    The real problem with Scion is that Toyota has not specialized in compact cars for a good while. And along with Japanese production costs, that’s a recipe for disaster when Scion is selling an xB with the thirsty (and outdated!) 2.4 litre from the previous Camry and the xD, which was a totally underrated car when it came out in 2007 is about two years past its sell date, and Toyota couldn’t even be bothered to throw in a six-speed manual or at least a five-speed automatic.

    And I’m sure that Toyota was only expecting to compete with Honda and Nissan with Scion, the Fiesta, Cruze and Sonic along with the gamut of compacts from Hyundai-Kia are siphoning off young buyers left and right.

  • avatar
    MrGreenMan

    Looking at their sales numbers – whatever Toyota did around 2008-2010, that’s when it died. It sure looks like they had something and completely lost it.

    Scion xD – peaked 2008 (25k units); 60% off peak since 2010.
    Scion xB – peaked 2006 (61k units); only off 25% in 2008; Now off over 67% since 2010.
    Scion tC – peaked 2006 (79k units); at 50% in 2008; now floating at over 75% off peak since 2009.

    They should hang Scion up.

    EDIT: Conflating the peaks, and guessing that maybe the sum of the peaks is most of Scion volume since I don’t follow them closely and don’t remember what they’ve cycled out (but xB, xD, tC have to be their volume numbers), that’s a best year of maybe 150-200k units. Not counting the FR-S, that means they’re dreaming of reaching that 100k unit count. This traces the line of Mercury’s collapse, only Mercury sold more.

  • avatar

    Scion needs more product particularly a couple of CUVs. One RAV4 sized and one Juke sized crossover if they expect to have any meaningful sales. A good example is the Buick Encore. Similar size, interior room and cargo volume as the xb and xd but outsells them combined despite being $10K more. The TC should get killed or become a corolla coupe. The next XB should become a Kia Soul type car. IIRC Buick yearly sales were around the same(~60,000) not too long ago.

    Unique standout cars are hot for a while and then no one cares after a few years(eg the PT Cruiser).

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Many of you guys also forget the biggest selling point of Scion, fixed pricing. For all the introverted, digitial age, unable to socialize people, it sounded great! You walk in and know exactly what you will pay, no haggle and no markups.

    The only Scion that would have ever interested me was the TC and the FRS. The rest I never cared for, however they offered a brand new car, for cheap, with Toyota reliability.

    The Corolla has gotten a little too pricey now for what you get. At close to 18k for minimum options and CVT, I’d probably get a Camry for 19-20k… I loved the Corollas of the early to mid 90s. Small, reliable, cheap and good looking. The 2014 is great, but has gotten bigger and more expensive.

    Scion should try to make smaller, cheaper cars like the Toyotas of the 90s. But then it will kill Toyota sales. The FRS was also probably kept from being labeled Toyora to help Scion numbers.

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Many of you guys also forget the biggest selling point of Scion, fixed pricing. For all the introverted, digitial age, unable to socialize people, it sounded great! You walk in and know exactly what you will pay, no haggle and no markups.

    The only Scion that would have ever interested me was the TC and the FRS. The rest I never cared for, however they offered a brand new car, for cheap, with Toyota reliability.

    The Corolla has gotten a little too pricey now for what you get. At close to 18k for minimum options and CVT, I’d probably get a Camry for 19-20k… I loved the Corollas of the early to mid 90s. Small, reliable, cheap and good looking. The 2014 is great, but has gotten bigger and more expensive.

    Scion should try to make smaller, cheaper cars like the Toyotas of the 90s. But then it will kill Toyota sales. The FRS was also probably kept from being labeled Toyora to help Scion numbers.

    I almost purchased the FRS, even though I needed a 4 door, bc I have no space for winter rims/tires. Also my wife wanted auto and my knees struggle with stick in sto

  • avatar
    Hemi

    Many of you guys also forget the biggest selling point of Scion, fixed pricing. For all the introverted, digitial age, unable to socialize people, it sounded great! You walk in and know exactly what you will pay, no haggle and no markups.

    The only Scion that would have ever interested me was the TC and the FRS. The rest I never cared for, however they offered a brand new car, for cheap, with Toyota reliability.

    The Corolla has gotten a little too pricey now for what you get. At close to 18k for minimum options and CVT, I’d probably get a Camry for 19-20k… I loved the Corollas of the early to mid 90s. Small, reliable, cheap and good looking. The 2014 is great, but has gotten bigger and more expensive.

    Scion should try to make smaller, cheaper cars like the Toyotas of the 90s. But then it will kill Toyota sales. The FRS was also probably kept from being labeled Toyora to help Scion numbers.

    I almost purchased the FRS, even though I needed a 4 door, bc I have no space for winter rims/tires. Also my wife wanted auto and my knees struggle with stick in stop and go.

    • 0 avatar

      @ Hemi – Actually, there are markups at SCION. The MSRP is marked up over invoice which is marked up over whatever else goes on behind invoice, which is marked up from the manufacturer to the dealer. There is plenty of mark up, as there should be. SCION dealers have agreed not to discount to “eliminate” hurting people’s feelings. They had hoped to make up any possible lost discounted deals to consumers who did want to negotiate with extra volume from people they thought would flock to them for the no hassle “purchase experience.” As with Saturn and the Ford Collection, consumers haven’t done what they said they would do in the surveys. It seems the art in the survey business is to be able to understand what consumers actually mean, rather than what they say. The factory and survey people have plenty of experience as consumers. They just have zero as sellers in the big ticket market purveying to real consumers. And they consistently get it wrong. The fact is consumers think there is such a thing a a “best price,” they want it, and will be pissed if a dealer doesn’t give it to them. There will always be just enough real consumers attracted to a “One Price” scenario to tantalize industry executives who have never had the eyeball to eyeball experience. But there will never be enough consumers to actually make such an endeavor viable.

      One might ask why OEMS have starved these “user friendly” channels of fresh product. The answer should be clear. Why put a hot product in the hands of a channel where volume is limited when you can put it elsewhere and gain a lot more volume? Some will say these enterprises failed because they were starved of product. The fact is they were starved of product because their business models didn’t support maximum profitability. And we know how capital follows return.

  • avatar
    jetcal1

    Not sure I buy into the death to Scion argument. The drop-off mirrors the economy, which begs the question of if and when will the target demographic recover economically?
    And, the chart shows national sales, which makes mw wonder how individual stores in areas with working/relatively affluent youth are doing.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I argued the exact opposite of this position about a year and a half ago.

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/455888/

    Now, nearly 18 months later, I still see Scion wallowing in the worst of both worlds.

    On one side of the ledger, Scion is still a niche player that continues to operate within the fold of Toyota dealerships. Even with five unique models, Scion still has to function as a specialized sub-brand of Toyota.

    On the other side of the ledger, we see Toyota forgoing any investment in an entry level, near-luxury vehicle for Scion. A move that could pull in the very people that leave Toyota once they get tired of driving the ‘family car’, the ‘retiree car’, or the ‘keep my ownership costs low’ car.

    The Lexus CT200h could have been the goose that laid that golden egg. But in the end, Toyota decided to give Lexus it’s 17th model with an acronym back in 2011. Scion at the time had all of 3 models.

    Will Scion die? Not likely in the near-term. Toyota has an unusually strong tendency to keep plowing away with a given name market even if it has become an unpopular and damaged (witness Lexus in Europe).

    I believe Scion could become a meritable success, but you have to give the dealers the type of product and financial rewards that would make Scion a priority. Instead of a minor slow selling sideshow on the showroom floor.

    To be blunt, it will take a far better product that appeals to mainstream buyers to make Scion a success.

    Two door cars with limited market reach and deformed rolling refrigerators simply can’t cut it. Even if those two door cars are among the best in the business, these days four doors are better than two and Scion hasn’t released a new one worth buying in nearly ten years.

  • avatar
    Ion

    I think Toyota can get away with slowly integrating Scion into the main line up. The XB and XD are supposedly not long for this world. That leaves the TC as the only unique model. Give it a T badge and the TC will pass as a Corolla coupe.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    My 2006 xB , more than any other vehicle , fits my needs . A new xB , similar to the first-gen xB , would be on my new car short list . One with the same boxy shape , dinky engine with a manual , capable of similar mileage ( 30 + mpg) in my experience , would be great , a small van without side windows and similarly equipped would be great .The same vehicle badged as a Toyota , would be great also.

  • avatar
    apelio1

    I don’t get it. Why do people buy hybrid cars, when DIESEL cars get even better gas mileage AND they last longer. (No battery to replace, no polluting the environment with batteries)

    Last year the VW Passat TDI beat the world record for being the most fuel efficient car in the world, at 77 MPG!

    http://www.autoblog.com/2013/06/24/vw-passat-tdi-sets-77-9-mpg-fuel-economy-record-through-lower-48/

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      Diesels get somewhat better highway mileage, while hybrids get much better city mileage. Buy according to where you drive. Also, until recently passenger car diesels meant enduring the sado-masochism of German car ownership, while hybrids were nothing-ever-breaks Japanese cars.

  • avatar
    V6

    while i agree that Scion should be killed off, i dont think Prius needs to be spun off into its own brand.

    i think the Prius acts as a halo car for the rest of the range. also where do you draw the line, ie will Toyota cars be petrol/diesel only and Prius hybrids only so there is no overlap? would the Camry/Highlander hybrid have to be canned and restyles as Prius hybrids so as not confuse buyers why there are Toyota hybrids and Prius hybrids etc

  • avatar
    AMC_CJ

    Keep things cheap, simple, and unique. Scion could still make it, but as is, it’s going following about the same life-cycle GM’s Saturn did. Actually, about the same dealership model and everything. Really, Toyota just totally ripped off GM’s Saturn strategy and tried to make it “better”.

    Scion did well at first because it offered unique reasonably priced vehicles. I remember awhile back seeing a Scion FWD mini-truck concept. It looked awesome, something I would consider buying. Of course they never made it. Put something like that to market, make it cheap, and also add some kind of small FWD two seat convertible to rival the Miata, but at a bargain price.

    Saturn’s unique products eventually became re-badged Chevrolets, and then it died. At this rate, Scion will go the same way.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      A couple of minor mistakes there, CJ, but essentially correct. Saturn cars were meant to be inexpensive, reliable, durable cars. GM did everything right with the Saturn for about the first 12 years. Only one problem–they were apparently TOO good. The people who bought them simply did not want to get rid of them. One couple I personally know started with 1 Saturn sedan and his girlfriend had another compact brand. After only a couple years, repairs on that other brand made the idea of replacing it a strong consideration. As the boyfriend had already been driving his Saturn for about 4 years and had over 100,000 miles on it, she decided on a Saturn for herself. This was back in the mid-’90s. In ’98, he had over 350,000 miles on his sedan and decided it was time to replace it. He went immediately to his Saturn dealer and bought a brand-new version of his existing model. Most people didn’t even know he had traded because he even chose the same color. Later, his now-wife traded hers too–and again she chose the same model and color. The cars were practically indestructible. No such thing as ‘road rash’. No such thing as parking lot dings. And legendary reliability. I myself bought a Saturn Vue in the first year they cam out–2002. I put over 130,000 miles on it in 8 years; barely a third of what my friends had put on each of theirs before they traded. I sold my Vue to my Father-in-Law.

      GM’s mistake wasn’t in reverting to re-badging Chevrolets, but rather re-badging Opels–even the Malibu was a re-badged Opel Aura for about three years; as the Vue was a re-badged Opel itself (though I don’t remember the Opel model name.) Saturn lost the reliability. Saturn lost the durability. Saturn lost their devoted customers. It’s too late for Saturn itself to return from the dead–Saturn’s plants were all either sold or repurposed to other brands and models.

      But this story is about Scion and while Scion isn’t Saturn, there are many similarities. People who tend to own a Scion tend to keep them ’til they die. Granted, this doesn’t make for huge sales numbers or huge turnover, but it makes for devoted, repeat customers who WILL buy every so many years–probably 8-10 years. Yours and many other comments here demonstrate that.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    All I know is that the Hot Wheels Scion FR-S has the steering wheel on the right hand side. If that’s not indicative of the need to mothball the brand, I don’t know what is.

  • avatar
    illinest

    Disagree. The scion fr-s is an example of the sort of product that toyota should be making under the scion brand. The other models fail because toyota continually attempts to “refine” them to be more like the corolla and it has been rightfully pointed out that toyota already makes a corolla. There isn’t any need for 4 different corollas.
    The prius idea isn’t really relevant to the viability of the scion brand but i think that it may cause some damage to the toyota brand if you split prius off from the rest. The prius is an odd example of a low-priced “halo” car that adds a touch of prestige to everything else that carries a toyota badge.
    Toyota needs to remember that the scion is marketed at young people. Stop softening the design. The original xB polarized opinions and lots of people hated it, but that is exactly what made it interesting. There is a market of people who appreciate toyota quality but can’t stand their product. The Corolla and the Prius are among the least satisfying vehicles that I’ve ever had the displeasure of being in. I don’t speak for everyone in the world but I think that I can speak for the people who were genuinely interested in the original xB. I eventually bought a Vibe instead for what it’s worth.
    One of the advantages that Scion has basically lucked into is the fact that their cars are among the only ones still being built that aren’t a pain in the butt to modify if you are interested in car audio. Almost every manufacturer has shifted toward head units that integrate other functions (such as climate control or gps) and that makes aftermarket head units difficult to install. This is a small niche to fill but it is a niche and nobody else is filling it. Use that in the marketing. There are still people who care.
    Restore the xB to it’s original boxy glory. It isn’t supposed to appeal to everyone. Make the TC a sort of pseudo-luxury counterpart to the FRS. Not speedy but comfortable and quiet and following in the spirit of an everyman’s GT. Each of these proposals would serve a small but loyal market that is generally poorly served. Forget about the xa and xd. Those will never be anything except less recognizable iterations of the Corolla and the Prius.
    Then top it off with a real successor to the MR2. Benchmark the miata and beat it. There are MR2 fans and even old Fiero fans who would go nuts for it if it were done right. The FRS suggests that Toyota is still capable…

    That makes for a compelling line of cars that should appeal to the people who aren’t typically interested in Corollas and Priuses.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Interesting. It seems that those who say, “I want less” outnumber the ones who say, “We want more.” Maybe “we” don’t really know WHAT other people want, hmmm?

  • avatar
    tonycd

    Said it before and I’ll say it again:

    “The original Scion goal was all about transparency and reducing time to purchase cars and vehicle personalization,” Jim Lenz said. “And none of that has changed.”

    I don’t think this is a rationalization; I recall hearing this when they launched the brand and admiring it as a brilliant business insight. At a time when every critic and consumer is moaning about the choke-hold the franchised dealer system has on decent customer service, Toyota is repeating the behind-the-scenes part of the Lexus formula: you can’t make your current brand’s dealers toe the line to any great degree, but if you create a new brand, you can rewrite the maker-dealer relationship from a clean sheet of paper. And so they have.

    What’s more, this time they’ve further refined their profitability model by centralizing all the accessories that used to be dealer-installed. This not only hogs all the dealer-installed options loot for Corporate, it also delivers a legitimate consumer benefit by offering a greater range of choices.

    The youth market is the right market for the Scion structural experiment for two simple reasons, neither of which has anything to do with “coolness”: They’re less brand loyal and thus easier to attract to an unknown brand, and they’re more into personalizing with accessories.

    Toyota had a lot more to gain than to lose with the Scion experiment, and I applaud them for trying it. The problem is that they eventually sank to stocking that corner of the showroom behind the beverage cooler with cars that were bloated dog crap. If they ever fix that, Scion still has a chance to serve the priorities that made Toyota try it in the first place.

  • avatar
    Wscott97

    @ CelticPete “Matrix was simply useless for me. It was incredibly painful to try to fit in. Granted I am taller then average but it was one of those Japanese car for the Japanese”
    Comments like these are a huge pet peeve for me. You must be a 400 pound and over 7′ tall to make a comment like that. I’m 6′ tall and I fit in my CIVIC just fine. My friend and her husband are over 300 pounds and drives a MATRIX, another friend who is 6’7″ rolls around in a Prius. It’s not painful to get into.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Back in ’02, when the Matrix/Vibe was a relatively new model, I truly liked what I saw. It was compact, sporty, had AWD and seemed to have the carrying capacity I really wanted at a reasonable price. However…

      When I went to my Pontiac dealer to test drive the Vibe, they didn’t have a manual transmission model on hand and so was forced to drive one with an automatic. To be blunt, it was grossly underpowered with an automatic. While there, I also test drove an Aztec–significantly larger, had AWD and a V6. Again, due to being automatic transmission only, it was GROSSLY underpowered. So many things I liked about it, but their insistence on automatic transmissions and such tiny wheels under such a big body made for a very weak vehicle. But we’re not really talking about the Aztek.

      From the Pontiac dealer, I went to Toyota, where it was obvious the Matrix was effectively the same car. On the other hand, while they did have a manual transmission model in stock, it was a much higher trim level (and thus significantly more expensive) and they refused to let me test drive it. They too did not get my business.

      I ended up buying a Saturn Vue at a retail price of just over $16K with almost everything I wanted on board, including a manual transmission. The Opel L-4 combined with an Opel sport transaxle gave it surprising acceleration and 30mpg economy. I put over 130,000 miles on it with no out-of-warranty repairs short of replacing the battery and it still has the original clutch plates–though they’re now due for replacement.

      You really can get a desirable car for a reasonable price. The Vue was large enough to comfortably fit my wife (over 6′ tall) and even go to Ikea and carry flat-pack 8′ bookshelves inside with the tailgate closed. A remarkable vehicle almost unmatched by any similarly-sized vehicle today. I’ll grant that Scion’s vehicles can’t match that 12-year-old Vue for capability but they still offer fun, roominess and economy at a very reasonable price. Give it another couple of years and you should see a small surge in the Scion’s sales to start balancing around 90K to 100K annually. I’ll grant that’s not a large market, but it’s still a larger market than many other vehicles here in the US.

  • avatar

    IMHO the main thing Scion needs is to divorce dealerships from Toyota’s. The line staff at dealerships plain hates selling Scions and sabotage it any way they can (either consciously or not realizing it).


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