By on August 19, 2013

Toyota FT86 Concept

A dealer attending Toyota’s U.S. dealer meeting in Atlanta earlier this month has told the Automotive News that the automaker is now letting its dealers drop underperforming Scion franchises without any penalties. Those dealers that keep their Scion stores open will likely get two new products that were teased at the convention. Toyota Senior Vice President Bob Carter declined comment though he hinted at changes, “We’re not ready to go public with that yet.” Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay recently told WardsAuto that Scion “has a few too many stores.”

About 80% of Toyota’s 1,225 U.S. dealers also have a Scion franchise, about 30% more than Toyota anticipated when it launched the youth-oriented entry level brand a decade ago. Scion sales in the U.S. peaked at 173,034 three years later but deliveries have dropped significantly since than. Other than the FR-S sports car that is sold as the Toyota GT86 outside the U.S. (and also as a Subaru) the current Scion lineup is aging and there has been little news forthcoming about revised or new product.

Earlier this year, at the Geneva auto show, Toyota revealed a convertible version of the GT86, called the FT86 concept. At the Atlanta meetings, dealers were shown the same concept badged as a Scion FR-S. Carter said the FR-S convertible “is under study but has not been green-lighted.” Toyota/Scion dealers were also shown a sketch of a subcompact CUV that one dealer described as having a “racy silhouette”. A Toyota source said that it would slot in below the Toyota RAV4 and compete with Honda’s upcoming Fit based CUV.

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48 Comments on “Toyota Allowing Dealers to Drop Scion but Tells Them That New Product On Way: FR-S Ragtop, Small CUV...”

  • avatar

    Very attractive car. The new materials make it look like a Porsche.

    The Toyota I do business with loves having Scion there as a low cost alternative to the Corolla for teen buyers. The Scion FRS they have ont he showroom floor livens the place up – helping you forget about the lifeless interiors of the Camry/Avalon you came for.

  • avatar

    Better idea…

    Drop the Scion thing entirely, make the FR-S a Toyota Celica, and give it a turbo.

    • 0 avatar

      Now – you’re talking!

      Seems odd to take a car named “Toyota 86” and then label it a “Scion” anyway.

      And without turbocharging, I can’t get excited about them. But Toyota isn’t going to do that. The aftermarket tuners will be left with the responsibility.

      • 0 avatar

        Oh, but wouldn’t they be afraid that would damage Toyota’s reputation for bland reliability!

        Seriously, that’s the only reason I can think of for Scion to exist: to keep the cool from rubbing off on the bland practical reliable cars. I may be a Toyota fanboy, but I ain’t blind to the beige…! I find the beige comforting, like a well worn pair of khakis…

    • 0 avatar

      Yes and Yes.

      • 0 avatar

        Turbo or supercharging as an option or standard +1 but I am guessing that will be saved for the 2015 refresh, or a TRD option (like the other Scions have).

        Dropping Scion wouldnt hurt my feelings (I’ve owned two, a tC and FR-S and its formed no Scion name loyalty to me though I am pleased with both cars)… but naming it Toyota Celica (another car I owned and loved) doesn’t sit well. Celica is one of Toyota’s oldest name plates. The last rear wheel drive Celica was in the 80’s before the Supra sprung off its name and took rear wheel drive with it. Also with the heritage, I wouldnt like seeing Celica turned into a shared platform car with Subaru and a boxer engine. Celica should be pure Toyota, just like MR2 and Supra or even Corolla. Just call it the Toyota 86 like it is everywhere else in the world… or better yet… go ahead and kill Scion off, take the money that would be needed to revitalize the brand and invest it into more shares of Subaru.

        • 0 avatar

          I definitely agree that I would want a future Celica to be pure Toyota and would love nothing more than Toyota going it alone next time around. Subaru’s influence has been nothing but a disaster what with all the quality issues this car has been having.

        • 0 avatar

          Or cut the Subaru deal, sign one with Porsche, put in their 2.7 boxer from the Cayman and call it a ‘Celica 944’

          A guy can dream :)

    • 0 avatar

      As far as I can tell, Toyota wants the Toyota car brand in the US to remain “boring”; it’s basically part of the image now, and lots of customers are looking for something “boring”; they just usually don’t post on car-related blogs. Scion lets them try out things that don’t fit there and don’t fit Lexus either. Without Scion, the iQ probably wouldn’t have been imported, for example. (Hmm, now you’re starting to convince me.)

      • 0 avatar

        Someone wanting to buy a Highlander isn’t going to be offended from buying a Toyota if there’s a Celica or Supra in the showroom next to it. Scion’s existence is worthless and hurts the Toyota brand.

      • 0 avatar

        “lots of customers are looking for something “boring”; they just usually don’t post on car-related blogs”

        One must be strong and brave like lion!
        Because always get called other cat name.

    • 0 avatar

      I wasn’t aware of the politics behind Scion – that some dealers are pushing to get rid of their Scion sub-stores, even though Toyota wants dealers to keep them.

      That might explain why the GT86 came over as a Scion FR-S. Toyota has a long game of trying to attract young people with Scion (not that attracting young people to your brand with a different brand entirely makes sense). But dealers likely don’t love stocking a bunch of low margin economy cars. And uncompetitive ones at that.

      Solution? Sure dealers, you can get rid of the low margin economy cars, but if you do you also lose the halo sports car.

  • avatar

    I’ve got a tub of Citgo marine(waterproof) wheel bearing grease. The grease is a very appealing shade of blue, looks just like blueberry jam…..tastes OK if you mix enough sugar in it.

  • avatar

    Toyota wants Scion because of the strong price premium their products tend to carry. Regardless of the current struggles of the Camry. It also gives them a place to try less than conservative models like the xB.

    Also the Celica was always sports car-lite. The FR-S is more S2000/Miata than Celica/GTI.

    Overall it makes sense to trim the dealer network if only because they’re all integrated and all the toyota dealers in the area has them, for a more niche brand that’s spreading themselves thin.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not powerful, large, or fast enough to be a Supra, so what else would it be called?

      A Supra should have the Lexus V8 and be basically a Japanese Maserati grand tourer in my opinion. A still very fast but more comfortable counterpart to the Nissan GT-R.

      • 0 avatar

        The Supra was more or less a direct competitor to the Skyline in Japan. I don’t know why you want it to be a Celica besides nostalgia. The FR-S is from the ground up a sports car and while the engine is small it definitely falls into that poor man’s segment where British Sports cars lived and where the S2000/Miata carry/ied on. The Celica was always a Corolla beaten into shape, the 86 reference is cool and has cache in Japan but the Celica died as a mercury cougar and Hyundai Tiburon companion.

        • 0 avatar

          Well it’s not a Supra and it’s not a Celica, but FR-S (or 86, or GT86) isn’t a f***ing name so it has to be called SOMETHING.

          • 0 avatar

            Scion has strange naming conventions. 330 is a number and remains the holy grail of BMW. I would agree a strong name would have helped make it and Toyota has a love affair with almost real words (Yaris, prius, camry, solara, corolla). I would be more inclined to give it the MR name than Celica which was essentially the 2 door version of corollas.

            Even going straight with Spyder (ignoring the nomenclature attached to it) would have been a good way. But I don’t see a HUGE issue with the FR-S/BRZ name. MGA, MGB, TR1-6, S2000….all worked.

      • 0 avatar

        How about MR3? Forget about the mid-engine part and you are all set.

      • 0 avatar

        Easy, it was done before and it should be called.. Toyota Carina! Would also be great if they could revive the Corona name, but I’d doubt they do that,… but they no longer have to worry about the typewriter company or the soda pop company, just the beer company.

  • avatar

    sweet lookin car. hope they dont glam it up or add huge engines to drive the price up. Should be an inexpensive basic ragtop, id buy one in a second.

  • avatar

    Scion has no product outside the FRS. The XB and XD are on the way out, the TC’s refresh of a refresh flew well under the radar, and the iQ should have never been imported.

    The truth is all of their current and future models would be better off branded as Toyotas. Toyota’s modern day Merkur is well past it’s prime.

  • avatar

    I’ve always been slightly puzzled that our local Toyota dealer does not have a Scion or Lexus franchise. The nearest of those franchises is more than two hours in one direction by automobile. FYI they’ve been selling Toyotas since 1982.

  • avatar

    The FR-S is selling at 60% predicted volume – the second coming of automotive heaven is struggling to find 20K customers a year and was roasted by a Fiesta in a R&T review (take with a grain of salt)

    The iQ is an utter failure, pointless in the face of cars like the Fiat 500 at its price point, and really answers a question no one asks in the US (sad state of affairs when you can point to the Chevy Spark and say the launch execution was vastly better). The only more laughable car for the money is the smart.

    The xB Gen II hit lots back in 2007 – and was technically killed in April of 2012, with Scion walking back the execution. It sells at just 25% of its peak volume, achieved with the Gen I back in 2006. Worse, even the fans are critical of the Gen II – and Kia sells more Souls in two months, botched MPG numbers and all, than Scion does xBs in a year. Even Honda knew when it was time to shoot the Element in the head.

    The xD has never been loved, is based on the previous gen Vitz/Yaris, is a 9 year old platform (which wasn’t all that good to begin with), hit dealers in 2007 and was also, “cancelled,” in April 2012. When a rebadged Daewoo Aveo in LS trim is better by all counts,, to compare B segment to B segment, you have big problems.

    The tC sells at just 30% of its peak volume, also hit in 2006, and also with a prior design. It is probably bang for the buck the best thing on the lot, and shoppers must agree with their wallets.

    This is a case study in a poorly marketed, poorly executed, poorly managed, and neglected brand. It is as bad as the stories of Lincoln, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Saturn, and Geo – minus the Saturn internal politics and intrigue.

    Finally, Scion never lived up to its mission, an incubator for the 34 and under crowd who will climb the brand ladder from Scion, to Toyota, to Lexus. Yes, the economy didn’t help, only 10% of new cars bought are from those 34 and under, and only 1% are 18 to 24. (source R L Polk, 2012 – do a search). Also, when Scion was born Toyota said vehicles would be one and done – no Gen I vs Gen II vs Gen III, it wold be an incubator for the cool – with good ideas moving more upscale Gen II into Toyota. That strategy went out the window in 2006.

    This is the definition of a dead brand walking, and this is a good sign, in my humble opinion, that Toyota is going to put this failed “down scale” brand to rest in 5 to 10 years, when they can spin the message as a good thing.

    • 0 avatar

      I was thinking about going into referencing the Saturn (most closely related if you ask me though now turning into an outsourced GEO with Subarus 3rd party help) downfall. The economy didnt provide support for the experiment, an experiment that may not have succeeded anyway, but it is failing never the less. FR-S cant save it alone. The revised tC is pretty good (looks great and is a great bargain) but not as good for its time as when it was introduced in 2004. The rest of the cars are duds (iQ may be an exception but its too much of a niche vehicle to tell).

    • 0 avatar

      Do you have any links supporting your “selling at 60% of expected volume”? Everything I’ve seen is that there is still ~18 day supply of the FR-S and they are selling for $26k as the average transaction price. Tight supply and no heavy discounting would imply that they are selling them as fast as they make them…

      edit: found another link. Toyota expected 10k sales the first year and 20k sales the 2nd. They are on pace for 20k sales for CY13.

      • 0 avatar

        According to Auto Trader, there are 3,560 Scion FR-S sitting on lots. Monthly sales volume for 2013 has been about 1650 units. That comes out to 2.21 CALENDAR months of inventory, about 66 days worth of cars on lots right now.

        Scion has a “no haggle ” pricing model so saying no discounting is a bit disingenuous. The same Auto Trader search reveals a number being offered for $1K to $2K below MSRP (and yes, I did a new car, on dealer lots only search). Further the FR-S, right on Scion’s site, has a leasing promotion right on the homepage. You claim an ATP as a good thing – a base FR-S has a MSRP of $26K (again, right off Scion’s site). $25.2K for a manual, $26.3K for an auto. (both prices include $755 delivery).

        So I don’t see how people buying stripper versions FR-S with an already no haggle pricing model is exactly a winning strategy. A check of incentives on Edmunds reveals that not even the xD has cash on the hood (beyond new college grad or military, there could be regional incentives but none in my area) outside of give away leases like on the iQ, which can be had for $99 a month! (and to the broader point, it still isn’t selling)

        You are correct on the 2013 sales target. In 2012 Autoblog ran a story where Fuji Heavy Industries estimated they would build 100K a year – and that number doesn’t seem achievable,

        I’ll also give benefit of the doubt, and speculate the 18 day inventory number you posted is for the BR-Z, which has much lower inventory – about 700 units last I checked on Auto Trader, about a 30 day calendar supply.

        • 0 avatar

          According to the first link, from Edmunds, on May 20, 2013, the BRZ was 14 days on the lot; FR-S was 18 days. I’d venture that Edmunds’ numbers are more accurate than Autotrader listings.

          The FHI 100k number would be globally, wouldn’t it? There is a single plant that builds the 86/GT86/BRZ/FR-S. According to this link ( ), 70k Toyota 86s have been sold in total. I don’t know the total BRZs or if GT 86 and FR-S are included in the 86 sales number quoted. I would assume the FR-S is being included as an 86 based on the way they quote AUS being behind the US and Japan. US BRZ and FR-S numbers total 31970 through July’13 (8918 BRZ and 23052 FR-S). I’d honestly be shocked if they get 100k units a year since they have to share the plant with the Impreza and the upcoming WRX/STI redesigns.

    • 0 avatar

      You’ve summed up the problem nicely.

      I was a Scion fan in 2005 when I got my former xB1. They’ve long since lost my attention.

      Even the FR-S, having a Subaru engine, isn’t a pure Toyota product.

      • 0 avatar

        My only complaint about my BRZ is the Subaru motor (chosen because I like the Subaru front end more, plus standard Nav, HIDs and nicer interior just made sense).
        Other owners have noted it sounds like a tractor – and I agree.
        The 10+ year old 1.8L inline mill in my old Celica sounded better (though I guess I shouldn’t complain about the Subie motor in a Subie car).

        Here’s hoping that rumours of a future lightweight, RWD 2-seater proper Toyota (slotting in under the FRS/BRZ) are true.

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    Just name the FR-S GT 86 like the rest of the world, turn the tC into the Celica after a new body and the xB could be rebadged as the new Matrix, the xD would be the new Yaris and bring in the Aygo as an entry level to compete with the 500 and Spark

    • 0 avatar

      There is no reason to keep the xD or xB. The xD is a previous gen Yaris/Vitz and the xB is almost 7 years old now. If Toyota wouldn’t invest in a Matrix replacement, they sure don’t care about the xB – which was technically cancelled almost 18 months ago.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree, if you want to name a Scion a Celica, the tC IS the one to pick, not the FR-S.

      My 2005 tC was a good and somewhat fun, but all glass roofed and 7 airbags weighted down modern day Celica. For the longest I guessed tC really meant Toyota Celica (though apparently that was just an accident since xC was already taken by Volvo).

    • 0 avatar
      Zekele Ibo

      > bring in the Aygo as an entry level to compete with the 500 and Spark

      I drove an Aygo in Europe last year, I absolutely loved it (but I have strange tastes in cars!). It’s better (more practical) than the Scion IQ and would be cheaper, but it would be a very brave move for Toyota to import a 67hp, three-cylinder engined car to North America. No automatic available either.

  • avatar

    I get it that TTAC is all about Scion-hate… But what’s this about aging?

    The tC is a new design dating back to… 2011. And was significantly refreshed this year.

    The iQ has been on sale in the US since… 2011? 2012?

    The FR-S is still wet-behind-the-ears.

    I hope they stick around – Scion has been more influential than most believe – for instance, the xA and xB both came loaded with a full range of features standard that would be considered upgrades on most other small cars – at that time (’03-’04), most compact and subcompact cars came without power door lock, windows, and mirrors standard. The Echo (upon which they were based, and was better executed as the Scion xA) was among the first modern “tall cars,” providing interior space by building upwards from a small footprint.

    They also cleared the way for subcompacts like the Fit and Versa to become big sellers here, along with the introduction of oddities like the Cube, Soul, and Juke.

    And in the interest of full disclosure, own and love my paid-off ’11 tC. There really is nothing that quite hits the same check-boxes on the market – the closest would be the smaller Civic Coupe, but it trades significant rear legroom and cargo space, and doesn’t offer a hatchback… and it significantly underpowered unless you opt for the SI. The Kia Forte Koup perhaps?

    Compact two-doors with room for four actual human beings are hard to find!

    • 0 avatar

      I agree with Afflo.

      I think product lines initially such as Scion, then later Nissan and Kia influenced the entire auto industry to make affordable, interesting vehicles loaded with electronics and options normally only seen on vehicles much more expensive.

      I owned two Nissan Cubes (’10, ’11). For $19,500 you could buy a car with more electronic gadgets and features than anything else on the market. To me that was a win.

      • 0 avatar

        Yay, I’ll chime in too with some Scion love. They really have done what they set out to do, just lately not as well as they should have. Scion has the youngest aged buyers and gets new buyers into Toyota showrooms. They are also the test bed for products that staid Toyota otherwise could not make a business case to fit into their product portfolio. These were Scion’s goals. High volume sales were not. To compare Scion’s sales woes now to the surprising hit that was the xB is not wholly fair.

        Scion has had missteps along the way (like listening to focus groups for the 2nd gen xB). But they have done a lot right. And a lot of their misfortunes are a result of never quite recovering from the recession and Toyota’s other setbacks. Yet.

        I hope Scion sticks it out. The tC is a fine car for its class/price. There is no reason they can’t sell more iQs than smart cars. A new replacement to cover the xB/xD range would be warranted, and probably would have happened if it weren’t for the rough few yers Toyota had. And Scion has proven they can sell at a higher, more prestigious price point with the FRS. If they can pare their dealers and work ouot a few kinks in product over the next year, I think decent sales will return.

        But I also think they should more clearly divorce themselves from Toyota. Not necessarly stand alone dealerships, but the day you could see a Scion dealer attached to a Lexus, with no corresponding Toyota on the same lot, is the day that Scion will have demonstrated its viability as a real brand. Right now they’re just the 2000s version of GEO. They should be gunning to be a version of mini.

        • 0 avatar

          The hate for the 2nd Gen xB is so odd. The reason it gets trounced by soul sales is 4K. When we’re talking cost which is where these cars reside xBs suffer because they’re between 16-18K. You can get a soul around 14K without getting into cash on the hood. Quite literally the soul is and remains a straight knockoff of the Gen II model, so focus group arguments fall on deaf ears here. I can almost guarantee the biggest killers are price and adverts which KIA pushes with a massive hamster campaign that has become the face of KIA.

          • 0 avatar

            The Scion hate in general is odd – it’s as if people are offended by the marque existing at all.

            Here’s the deal with me and my tC: The interior volume, cargo space, engine, and most of the options are fairly close to an Accord EX coupe (my original intended car). It’s a bit sportier, and a bit less refined, but for a nice chunk less money as well. The car is, for all intents and purposes, a shorter wheelbase Camry coupe, with firmer suspension and bigger sway bars. There aren’t many options these days for a nice small-to-midsize coupe or 3-door hatch with a decent amount of power, moonroof, and Toyota/Honda reliability.

            The Kia Forte Koup is interesting, but doesn’t have Toyota’s quality pedigree. It looks very promising, but I still want to see how the newer Kias hold out over 10-12 years.

            The VW Golf/GTI is more refined, but pricier for German “quality”

            The Civic coupe is underpowered in the EX form, or overpriced in SI form.

            The Nissan Altima Coupe was high on my list, but the car feels SO CRAMPED. I have kids who don’t live with me full time, but do visit, and I need a functional back seat.

            It took one test drive in the tC to know I’d found my car – tons of legroom and knee space, terrific seats, good around-town power, and long-haul comfort. I’ve driven my ’11 tC from coast-to-coast comfortably, and taken it on multiple 2000+ mile road trips (I just hit 47500 miles, and paid it off about 4 months ago, just over 2 years in). It’s not a home run for everyone, but it’s a near perfect match for me. Rear wheel drive, nicer interior materials, more sound insulation would be nice, but given how well it meets so many of my wants and needs, and at such a low price point, it’s tough to beat.

            The one unforgivable sin in the car was the garish seat fabric, which I’ve covered with Clazzio fitted covers – it looks like a factory leather upholstery job, and cost me $400.

            So, I ask, what on earth makes Scion so detestable? It certainly isn’t costing Toyota much money, it’s bringing in lower-aged buyers, and it gives Toyota a place to experiment. My only guess is that its existence is evidence that Toyota has the spare cash to experiment in the auto world like GM once did (the company that gave us the aluminum engined Cutlass, torque-tube tempest, FWD Toronado, space-framed mid-engined Fiero, ahead-of-their-time dustbuster vans, rear-engined Corvair, fiberglass bodied Corvette, and so on). And, there’s always the American love for going for the kneecaps of the biggest dog in the yard with criticism (McDonalds, Walmart, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook, Google, Amazon, etc.)

            The biggest problem with the tC is that it really shouldn’t be a Scion – it’s a bit too conventional. A boxer engined enthusiasts sport coupe? Sure. A citycar? A micro-Chevrolet Astro (original xB)… But man, you’d think that the head of Scion was spotted urinating on a crucifix while wearing a Nickelback T-shirt or something!

  • avatar

    Finally Toyota enables its dealers to get all those kids off the lawn.

  • avatar

    The ft 86 should have been a corolla from the get go. Thats what its named after. They’ll never make one because new Toyota is a bunch of pussies but there needs to be a celiac all trac to fill the void mitsu will leave. Don’t let subaru take all the awd turbo business.

  • avatar

    With Akio’s desire to inject sportiness and fun in Toyotas, the rationale for Toyota and Scion to exist grows weaker and weaker.

  • avatar

    The FR-S was a victim of its own hype. Toyota dealers were happy to oblige and gouge early adopters 4-6k over MSRP. There was a time you couldn’t test drive one without putting down a deposit and promising to buy one.

    Now my Toyota dealer has 3 collecting dust in the showroom, they’d put them out back but they’re the only 3 Scions for sale at the dealership and the “Scion Store” would look pathetic empty.

    Most people saw a small, fun, somewhat underpowered, and ridiculously overpriced and overhyped car. I thought about offering my Toyota dealer list for one of the 2013s he can’t move, but I just don’t think it’s a nice car at any price given its rather unimpressive specs.

    If I’m looking for a sports car, for the money, I’d probably get a Mustang.

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