A sign of our automated times, it looks like the manual transmission’s days could be numbered in the Corolla lineup. (Read More…)
Quick trivia: what’s the fastest-growing auto brand in America?
Jeep? Land Rover? GMC? Ram? Volvo?
Year-over-year, through the first four months of 2016, sales at Scion — Toyota’s 13-year-old youth-directed brand — are up 53 percent. It’s not just recovery after a poor start to 2015. Scion is on track for its best year since 2008.
Well, Scion would be on track for U.S. sales to rise to an eight-year high if, by the end of this year, Scion still existed. (Read More…)
Prior to the New York International Auto Show, Toyota distributed an upbeat press release. Come party with us, it said. “Scion is not going away quietly.”
Yet, as I walk toward Scion’s booth, a quiet unease fills a void once occupied by a loud, confident generational pulse. The typical eye-catching signs with heavily embossed, trendy hashtags are all but entirely absent upon my arrival. Massive subwoofers sit dormant inside 13 years’ worth of one-off tuner concepts. Engineered studio lighting softly highlights the vehicles on display, while simultaneously attempting to hide the vast, empty spaces between them.
Scion’s show booths are normally chock-full of tchotchkes and the beautiful people handing them out — but not today.
Scion’s slow-selling FR-S rear-wheel-drive coupe is about to become Toyota’s slow-selling rear-wheel-drive coupe, and it will be branded with the same moniker as in many other parts of the world.
That’s right: this is the Toyota 86, also known as what it should have been named here in the first place.
If you’ve been holding out on buying a Scion tC until the right special edition came along, this is your last opportunity.
Being a car flipper, tuner and technician that falls within the millennial age group should make me an ideal candidate for various Scions. Yet, when I attempted to jog my memory yesterday, I could think of only a a few I’ve touched with my own two hands.
In fact, I’ve only flipped a single vehicle from Toyota’s youth brand: a repossessed xB festooned with the standard roll call of aftermarket vendor decals. It would be my only foray into a tuner culture the brand attempted to make accessible to millennials straight from the dealer. It also represented the misfortune of many young owners who lose their vehicles to the bank.
“Sir, I don’t think you understand how our pricing model works.”
It was the winter of 2004, and a sad-sack of a salesman sat at the desk across from Mrs. Bark and me at a morbidly depressing Toyota-Scion dealership near Dayton, Ohio. My dear wife was the less-than-proud owner of a 2001 Hyundai Elantra that had been the very first car she’d ever purchased new. That Elantra came with war wounds; it had been hit in the rear door a week after she bought it, and the car was so cheap that the small dent it caused wasn’t worth fixing.
We had recently become upwardly mobile, thanks to a promotion I got at work, so I wanted to buy her something nicer; something sporty, but not actually sporty. She was a graduate music student, and all of her friends drove shitboxes from the ’90s. I wanted them to know that her husband was somebody, not just another poor grad student. Alas, youthful pride.
One coupe flies, two coupes die.
By the time that Akio Toyoda was standing on that Detroit stage crowing about the triumph of the LC500, the nails were already being hammered into Scion’s coffin. The Scion tC, perhaps the best combination of practicality, style, and durability available for under twenty-five grand in the United States, will be taken out back and unceremoniously shot. The FR-S … your guess is as good as mine, but I’d be surprised if Toyota brought it over as the Celica, no matter how personally gratified I would be by such a move.
The story of Toyota’s American sub-marques could not be more different. Lexus has gone from strength to strength, effortlessly assuming a position as the thinking man’s luxury car with the LS460 while also flooding the market with Camry-platform high-profit product. Scion, on the other hand, has struggled from its first day with customer perception, dealer-satisfaction issues, and schizophrenic product planning.
Yet it’s easy to show that Lexus has been just as poorly managed as Scion; take a look at the Lexus lineup over the past 27 years and tell me that you can’t spot quite a few duffers and misfires. So why is the Official Toyota Brand of McMansion Owners soaring while the Official Toyota Brand of Dubstep Aficionados crashes? The answer, naturally, is: Barack Obama.
Beyond the funky metal, there’s one element that set Scion apart from its Toyota mothership: monospec pricing.
By offering up only a single trim for each models and reducing options to paint colors, transmissions and accessories, Scion was able to market its vehicles to a different audience and offer a no-haggle sales approach.
For the 2017 model year, that monospec approach will continue, but Toyota is evaluating its future. Also, Scion’s no-haggle pricing model won’t be surviving the transition to Toyota.
Toyota officially announced Wednesday morning that Scion will “transition to Toyota,” effectively killing off the youth brand started in 2002. Its first vehicles went on sale in California in 2003, and included the xA hatchback and xB wagon.
According to a release from Toyota, Scion “is now transitioning back to the Toyota brand” and most Scion models well be rebranded as Toyotas starting August 2016 for the 2017 model year, including the forthcoming C-HR. The Scion tC will be discontinued as of August 2016.