By on December 4, 2014

Scion brand sales chart 2014For the 18th consecutive month, the Scion brand’s U.S. volume declined in November 2014. The streak has reached a special low point, however, with the worst percentage decline since June and the lowest sales total since January 2012, when the iQ had only just arrived and the FR-S wasn’t yet on sale.

We’re long past expecting Scion to be capable of selling 14,400 cars a month as they did when the brand peaked in 2006. In 2012, Scion sold an average 6125 cars per month, an average which climbed to nearly 6700 monthly sales in the final seven months of that year.

But with just 3907 November 2014 sales, a 21.4% drop compared with November 2013 and a 30.3% decline compared with November 2012, the brand’s 18-month streak has tumbled to new lows.

Only in June of this year, when Scion sales slid 27.3%, or 1728 units, has the monthly decline been more drastic. As in June, the Scion brand’s November decline was sharper than any other automaker’s. But for a number of November’s declining brands, recent history suggests that last month’s results aren’t in keeping with the overall trend.

Land Rover, for instance, was down 20.6%, yet Land Rover sales are up 3.3% this year. Smart volume plunged 15%, but Smart sales are actually up 12.7% this year. Infiniti volume was down 13.3%, but Infiniti volume is up 2% in 2014. Volvo was down 14.4%, but they’re hoping, somewhat reasonably, that the second-generation XC90 is the brand’s saviour in North America.

2014 Scion iM conceptThe XC90’s pedigree and potential are unquestionable: it’s a vehicle that in 2004 sold nearly 40,000 copies for a brand which currently needs nine months to achieve that total across all nameplates. At Scion, are we to believe that the iM is the car that will restore the brand’s fortunes?

Scion initially rocketed to impressive heights with very small, very space-efficient vehicles like the first xB, a 28-mpg car that was bizarrely replaced by the 24-mpg second-gen xB. They sold 61,306 of those first-gen xBs in 2006. Scion’s whole product range – FR-S, tC, iQ, and slowly dying xB and xD – won’t top the 60K mark in 2014.

To put that figure into perspective, consider some of the brands which currently outsell Scion in the United States – Infiniti, Lincoln, Mitsubishi – all of which were roundly outsold by Scion in 2006, when Scion’s lineup featured only three nameplates.

Aging products are a problem. Post-hype, sports cars like the FR-S rarely prove capable of maintaining the early sales levels, nor are they expected to. But setting aside the core attributes that first made the automaker a success is perhaps Scion’s most egregious sin.

There is new product on its way, but a significant Scion rebound still seems unlikely. Fans can hope that new products will lift Scion out of its current situation, a situation which hardly seems tenable in the long-term.

Scion was America’s 28th-best-selling auto brand in November 2014, behind Mini and Porsche. Scion was responsible for just 2.1% of all Toyota MoCo sales last month, making less of an impact than 13 of the company’s nameplates, from the Camry, Corolla, and RAV4 to the Lexus ES, Avalon, and Lexus IS.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

94 Comments on “November 2014 Scion Sales Hit 34-Month Low, 18 Consecutive Months Of Decline...”


  • avatar
    theupperonepercent

    They make lame econoboxes – and so does everyone else – but now, everyone’s strapped in debt and can’t afford to take out loans.
    The Scion FRS was a splash in the pan.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      No, the problem is they make lame econoboxes that were designed 5+ years ago while everyone else actually makes good econoboxes with modern “luxury” features for the same price.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        As someone who helped buy one of those lame econoboxes for his grand daughter in May 2011, I can tell you that the Hyundai Elantra at that time was the best econobox for the money, value-wise, warranty-wise, all-around-wise.

        Last month we sold that Elantra with ~60K miles on it because my grand daughter had graduated from college and had no further need for it.

        It still brought more in cash money ($10K vs the $17K paid new) than a Scion of that same class would have.

      • 0 avatar
        Nasmir

        There are some that aren’t interested in a lot of bells and whistles in their cars.

    • 0 avatar
      indi500fan

      IIRC Scion rolled out about the time of Toyota’s “Mona Lisa” peak in US public perception. The quality reputation was at its max and the cars were pretty cute. I suspect if you were a dealer pondering the go/no go on a franchise, it was a slam dunk yes.

      Now the rep is a bit more average, the designs are old, and small cars are getting roughed up by cheap gas. If Toyota wants to keep this alive, it’s gonna take a lot of investment.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    It was an interesting project, caused the dealer base some heartburn due to signage and showroom differentiation issues in the beginning. For toyota it should not be tough to realize it is fourth and forty on their own ten, but still first half. Time to punt.

    No one will miss Scion. Hell they could do it quietly and the masses won’t even notice for a year or two.

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    I look forward to the day when the “enthusiast” harping about the second gen xB eats its bowl of crow. It is a competent vehicle that nobody happens to want, big deal.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Really, just absorb the models into Toyota when they’re due for replacement (which all of them are, except the FR-S, which can just be a Toyota like other countries) and end the Scion brand. It’s not a big deal, everybody knows an identical model with a Toyota badge will have better resale value anyway.

    You’ve got the same problem (in basic form) that you had with the Corolla and the Geo Prizm.

    Bye Scion. You were cool for about 25 minutes.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    Still holding on to my 1st gen xB.

    The meat of Scion’s product line (xB and xD) are over 6 years old, essentially unchanged. Why buy a new one when it looks the same as a clean used one?

  • avatar
    kosmo

    Well, if they brought out a wagon or 5-door hatchback version of the FR-S, I could help them out with one more sale……………

  • avatar
    insalted42

    If they really are counting on the iM to save the brand, then Scion really is doomed.

    A few friends of mine have Toyota Auris’ and, while they’re perfectly fine little cars, they definitely won’t set the market on fire in a way that would bring Scion back to its 2006 success.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I wonder what sales would be like if there were more dealers? Just put a little Scion corner in each Toyota Showroom and keep a few examples on hand for test drives. The nearest Scion dealer to me is over 150 miles away.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    “November 2014 Scion Sales Hit 34-Month Low, 18 Consecutive Months Of Decline”

    — I guess that depends on your definition of “decline”. The headlining graph shows where 11 of those 18 months demonstrate a rise in sales, even though the overall direction is down. The headline would have been more accurate saying something like, “… at its lowest point in 18 months.” Granted, it’s roughly 50% below Scion’s high point in June of ’12, but just in August of this year their sales exceeded their May ’12 numbers. That’s not “18 consecutive months of decline”.

    Ok, so Scion is trending lower, that much is easily understood. What they need to do is discover why the trend is lower while there are sudden sharp spikes upward. What are they doing right vs what they’re doing wrong–or vice versa. Could it be that they’re marketing to the wrong people? Who, really, are driving Scion’s cars? When it comes to the tC and the FR-S, maybe they’re hitting the right demographic with the younger, entry-level driver but with the xB and xD I see typically the ’empty nest’ crowd who simply no longer need a big vehicle to carry a crowd. Maybe they should target the more mature demographic who is more concerned about fuel mileage and simplicity. Maybe they should emphasize reliability over sportiness while still showing how much fun a smaller car can be. What you can’t do is expect a new-model surge to represent long-term sales. Cars are still considered a durable item and manufacturers need to look at long-term trends instead of short-term peaks.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Not month over month decline, but decline compared to same month previous year. Done to reduce the effect of seasonality.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Well, just look at the chart.

      Every August their is a spike for Scion. Been that way since 2012 (however those spikes have never broken June of 2012).

      The August 2012 spike is easy – the first full month of deliveries of the FR-S started in the US in August of 2012.

      The August 2013 spike was due to overall industry lift. Says who? Says Toyota – who in their 2013 Conference Call Notes don’t even mention Scion once, or any of their products.

      http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/august+2013+sales+conference+notes.htm

      The August 2014 spike is again, seasonal – so sayeth the folks at Toyota.

      http://toyotanews.pressroom.toyota.com/releases/tms+august+2014+sales+conference+notes.htm

      Once again, not a single mention of a Scion specific product or Scion specific sales broken out.

      If anything the lack of mention speaks volumes on what Toyota thinks about long term direction.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Mitsubishi outsold them? That takes talent and some epic brand mis-management there…

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    You know, I’m really beginning to hate TTAC’s spam blocker.

    In too many ways the author fudges on the truth even though the general trends are true. It is NOT “eighteen consecutive months of decline”, eleven of those months saw definite and frequently very sharp rises. September ’14s 1800-unit drop does not match the September ’13s 2400-unit drop. In fact, this Nov ’14 low only barely beats out the Jan ’14 low, though if the pattern plays out as it has for the last three years, Dec ’14 will take it lower yet while Jan ’15 could go either way.

    • 0 avatar
      Timothy Cain

      There’s a reason improvements and declines in the U.S. auto industry are observed on a year-over-year basis, and not in month-to-month terms: auto sales in the United States are seasonal. As a result, no automaker’s sales in November are comparable to their sales in January – the market last month was 29% larger than January’s. (November was 19% better last year than January of last year; 25% bigger in 2012; 21% in 2011. See the trend?) This is why we look at an automaker’s performance in the same period one year earlier. In each of the last 18 months, Scion’s sales compared with the year-ago period were down. The fact that Scion can sell more cars in May than January (54% more this year) is completely irrelevant, as the market itself was 59% larger in May than January.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      There is no fudging the truth here – Scion sales haven’t shown growth since the brands June 2012 peak.

  • avatar
    jpolicke

    The xB lost all of its appeal with the second generation. The aged xD lists for less than $300 more for the iQ, which is far less popular than a Smart Fortwo. The FRS lists for more than a base Mustang. And the TC, which was a very attractive car when it first came out, was worked over with the ugly stick for its 2011 restyle, then they drastically cheapened up the interior. I don’t think there is anything else they could do to ruin this brand more thoroughly.

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I’ll probably be picking up a used 2nd-gen xB soon. It fits my needs perfectly, and I’ll probably spend next to nothing on maintenance for it. And I can’t think of a car I’ve been less excited to buy. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised.

  • avatar
    Fred

    Problem is they don’t have any jacked up utility vehicles and as Mr Cain suggests their product is just getting a bit long in the tooth.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Actually, the lack of viable CUV given buyer’s tastes is a huge problem for Scion.

      A subcompact and a compact CUV just might breath life into the brand. But why over a compact CUV that competes with the RAV-4 on the same showroom floor. Further, Toyota, within the United States, hasn’t had a whole lot of success in the subcompact market since they killed the Tercel. The Yaris sales are pathetic, and over 50% fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      Richard Chen

      Ironically, the xD got a lift kit and AWD to be come the Urban Cruiser in the EU.

  • avatar

    The Scion dealership in my neighborhood is basically the used-car department for the Toyota dealership next door. In fact, the sign on the Scion dealership says, “Scion. Used Cars.” It wouldn’t surprise me if, in the near future, they remove the letters, S-C-I-O-N and be done with it.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      This is actually a good point; I don’t think Toyota in either North America or Canada really knows how to properly support Scion.

      The idea of Scion isn’t a bad one: inexpensive, low-volume JDM oddballs or other niche vehicles (that don’t fit at Toyota or Lexus) sold at no-haggle pricing. Basically a dumping ground for global overcapacity, with free advertising by virtue of being “unique” and/or the North American retail arm of Daihatsu.

      The problem is the execution: there’s not a lot of distinctive product any more, and the dealers are useless. The original xB was a good example of Scion done right, as is the iQ (though it could be a bit cheaper). The second-gen xB was a committee-designed response to the criticisms of the first that was squished between the Matrix and RAV.

      The tC only sort-of fits, and the FRS pushes the envelope a little too far.

      Scion could probably redeem itself by bringing over a few more models, possibly even a distinct model each year or so. If the xB can get critical acclaim, then why not the Copen, Charade, Aygo, or (for the small-truck nuts) the HiJet.

      Admittedly, federalizing a kei car would be tough.

      • 0 avatar
        superchan7

        “Admittedly, federalizing a kei car would be tough.”

        Not only tough, but impossible. Kei cars are exempt from normal crash testing. Even in Japan, Kei cars are not allowed on highways (see every Japanese expressway entrance…”Kei” with a big red X over it). Try selling a car like that in the US. Strictly a product of Japan’s vehicle tax/licence fee tiers.

        • 0 avatar
          jpolicke

          Take off a wheel and call it a motorcycle.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            To build showroom traffic, Toyota should just buy up Morgan and as many old 3-wheelers (Schmitars too!) they can find in merry old England. Then, register them as old vehicles that don’t have to meet DOT and live up to that “Scion – Used Cars” sign.

  • avatar
    monomille

    Scion is perceived by many as the brand for younger people. How is the brand doing among young people who buy new cars? What is the trend in numbers of new cars being bought by young people? What brands are they buying instead of Scion? The answers to these questions might (or not) shed some light on what is going on – at the least they would provide context for the discussion

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Young people buy used cars. And smartphones. While old guys who want to look younger, again has enough bubble equity to buy fancier fare.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        FUN FACTS: 1.6 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft last year and thefts of mobile devices now make up 40 percent of all robberies in major American cities. This is addition to cell phone radiation levels double or triple contemporary phones five years ago in some cases (Iphone 4S/5: 1.11/1.18, Droid Maxx 1.54, my Motorola VE465 flip phone: 0.54).

        Real smart, eh?

        http://adage.com/article/the-media-guy/smartphone-crime-totally-control/243337/

        http://cellphones.procon.org/view.resource.php?resourceID=003054

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          One, phone theft is pretty silly: once the IMEI is blacklisted the phone is essentially a brick

          Two, there’s never been any reputable study linking cellphone radiation to cancer or other health effects. Not. One. Single. Study. Not even in among ancient AMPS-network cellphones which put out orders of magnitude more radiation.

          There have been a lot of disreputable studies, usually by people with an axe to grind, ideologically. These have never stood up to scrutiny and generally end up in the same wastebasket as studies that deny climate change, say that vaccines cause autism, or that GMO foods cause cancer.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I do not disagree on the futility of phone theft, but I imagine much like cars in a chop shop the phones are profitably sold for parts.

            On the second point, keep drinking that fluoridated water and cola loaded with aspartame, HFCS, and potassium bromate. No matter what they tell you, you really don’t know whats been done to GMO foods without a lab to test them. I personally don’t want to debate global warming, cough cough climate change, or vaccines simply because they are both such broad topics.

            http://www.livescience.com/36206-truth-potassium-bromate-food-additive.html

            http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/26/AR2009012601831.html

            http://aspartame.mercola.com/

            http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9002384

            http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422%2813%2970278-3/fulltext#article_upsell

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            @28-cars:
            On GMOs…
            * Fluoridated water — not genetically modified
            * Aspartame — not genetically modified.
            * HFCS — not genetically modified.
            * Potassium bromate — not genetically modified.

            While I fully agree with your point that these are all bad for your body, your argument that these are equivalent to genetically modified foods is not true. The above are all proven to be harmful, GMOs are NOT proven to be harmful. At least, not yet.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            “One, phone theft is pretty silly: once the IMEI is blacklisted the phone is essentially a brick”

            “thefts of mobile devices now make up 40 percent of all robberies in major American cities.”

            Which says something about how much value is left for America’s young, in the aftermath of half a century of baby boomers preening around being fashionably progressive…..

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Vulpine

            I simply do not trust any food which has been unnecessarily modified, especially in light of the fact the other harmful things I named above are LEGAL in the US but uncommon or banned in the rest of the world. If there is some kind of kumbaya we are the world BS about modifying food to feed the world, find modify it and give it to the starving people in Africa, Asia, etc, NOT sneak it into the US food supply which is exactly what is happening.

            Did you know the Ukraine fiasco has a GMO connection according to one think tank?

            Curious, huh?

            “Finally, a little-known aspect of the crisis in Ukraine is receiving some international attention. On July 28, the California-based Oakland Institute released a report revealing that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), under terms of their $17 billion loan to Ukraine, would open that country to genetically-modified (GM) crops and genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture. The report is entitled “Walking on the West Side: the World Bank and the IMF in the Ukraine Conflict.” [1]
            …According to the Oakland Institute, “Whereas Ukraine does not allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in agriculture, Article 404 of the EU agreement, which relates to agriculture, includes a clause that has generally gone unnoticed: it indicates, among other things, that both parties will cooperate to extend the use of biotechnologies. There is no doubt that this provision meets the expectations of the agribusiness industry. As observed by Michael Cox, research director at the investment bank Piper Jaffray, ‘Ukraine and, to a wider extent, Eastern Europe, are among the most promising growth markets for farm-equipment giant Deere, as well as seed producers Monsanto and DuPont’.” [2]”

            http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/22/70838/

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Vulpine

            I simply do not trust any food which has been unnecessarily modified, especially in light of the fact the other harmful things I named above are LEGAL in the US but uncommon or banned in the rest of the world. If there is some kind of kumbaya we are the world BS about modifying food to feed the world, find modify it and give it to the starving people in Africa, Asia, etc, NOT sneak it into the US food supply which is exactly what is happening.

            Did you know the Ukraine fiasco has a GMO connection according to one think tank?

            Curious, huh?

            EDIT: I can’t post the direct quotes due to the spammonster, check out the link.

            http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/22/70838/

          • 0 avatar
            Vulpine

            No, 28-cars, I didn’t know about that connection; however, I consider the fact that it’s only ONE think tank making that connection a bit ludicrous.

            That said, some of those genetic mods are intended to reduce the need for pesticides like DDT (or its modern equivalent) and increase crops under stressful conditions such as drought or hailstorms where a farmer’s crops may be otherwise wiped out. I’ll grant that we don’t know for certain how it affects the nutrition of said crops, but so far no obvious adverse effect has been noted–unlike all those chemically-produced additives you described which have ALL been declared harmful in one way or another.

      • 0 avatar
        bomberpete

        Everyone I know who bought a first-gen xB was 45 years old and also an enthusiast of vinyl records, tiki lounges and barbeque.

        • 0 avatar
          psarhjinian

          You know what? There’s Scion’s new market, right there.

          The automotive equivalent of the fixie.

          • 0 avatar
            bomberpete

            Good one! Given that I live in Brooklyn, I’m 51 and I’ve had arthroscopic knee surgery, those snotty 25 y.o. kids on fixies really annoy me. And none of them will ever buy a Scion, even when they have kids and move to Jersey for the schools.

            I was bike riding in San Francisco a few years ago and saw a touring bicycle (27 speeds) with the sticker “One Less Fixie.” I concur.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            I always reckoned the fixed gear drive train, was behind the fascination San Francisco hipsters have with electric cars……..

    • 0 avatar
      Eyeflyistheeye

      I was 17 when Scion came out and never liked their brand, which I thought was a cynical marketing exercise with no story or pedigree behind it.

      Over the years, I’ve seriously considered a tC and an xD but they always lost out primarily due to the fact that I could get a more modern car for less money since these days, nobody needs their no-haggle pricing.

      Ford is doing a shrewd job of appealing to almost every young buyer through balancing technology, styling, performance and driving dynamics all while drawing from their history instead of running away from it.

      Not to mention that Ford has awesome entry-level products (Fiesta, Focus, Mustang V6), and a clear upgrade path. I mean, it’s obvious the Fusion and Focus are from the same company and one is a step up from the other, but how in the world did anyone at Toyota think that someone would go from a 1st gen xB into a Camry or Avalon? Or where do they go from a FR-S?

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Discounting my avowed dislike for all things Ford (I’ve NEVER owned a reliable Ford, and I’ve owned now three different models) you do say one thing correctly: “it’s obvious the Fusion and Focus are from the same company and one is a step up from the other.” It is so obvious that if you were unaware of the size difference, the Fiesta, the Focus and the Fusion could all be the same car. Where is the originality? Where is the difference between models that would inspire you to WANT to move up (or down) to a different model? I hate to say it, but the different Ford models are beginning to look like clones of each other–even the F-150 has a Fusion-like shape to its grill and nose clip even though it’s also trying to pretend it’s a big-rig 18-wheeler. It used to be you could really tell the difference between a Falcon and a Fairlane and a Galaxy(LTD) from a Fiesta by more than just size. Now even the Mustang looks like nothing more than a slightly re-skinned Fusion. Yes, I know a lot of people swear by Ford, but those Ford owners I personally know ALL claim reliability problems with their cars and trucks.

        So what’s wrong with Scion? It’s a compact car line in a country obsessed with oversized everything. It’s a niche brand just as Fiat itself is a niche brand; but it’s a niche brand with huge potential as our fuel costs fluctuate wildly out of control. Not even six months ago gasoline prices approached $4/gallon in some places and now it’s $2/gallon in other places. This instability cannot continue and despite all the analysts who say it will last at least another year are puffing from a dangerous pipe. When fuel prices rise again (and they WILL rise again) we could easily expect to see gasoline prices rocket past $4/gallon and possibly past $5/gallon before it starts stabilizing again. These small cars with their 35-40mpg ratings and higher will have the advantage as the cost of driving them will remain half that of heavier vehicles that simply can’t meet those fuel mileage figures.

        So, is Ford really appealing to “every young buyer”? No. They’re garnering their fair share, certainly, but the young buyers are more commonly buying Japanese or European imports rather than stodgy old American brands. That’s why Toyota is the #1 selling car brand in the US.

    • 0 avatar
      Vulpine

      Or maybe they’re marketing to the wrong demographic. The people actually buying smaller cars tend to be at the opposite end of the age range from the marketing.

  • avatar
    petezeiss

    I still love that ingenious agricultural multi-tool hangin’ off the front of the car in the photo.

  • avatar
    Occam

    I want them to introduce a brown diesel wagon with a manual just to see cognitive dissonance fry the collective brains of the BnB.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Now that even the “superior” (in hipster lore) Europeans have figured out diesels aren’t really all that for anything but soot production, it’s probably about time to relax the diesel requirement…….

      A brown plug in hybrid wagon does manage to sound insanely boring, though. Almost worth putting up with some soot to avoid….

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    Toyota needs to end this experiment that was Scion.

    Scion’s original mission was to be a “youth” band to pull in buyers earlier into the Toyota fold.

    Then Toyota said a few years ago it would be an incubator brand, that they were going to retire the xB and xD and would build cars for only one revision. Those that sold might go to Toyota, those that didn’t would be put to pasture.

    Then they said nah, we’re not doing that and walked back the death announcement of the xB and the xD.

    This is beyond a dead brand walking at this point. The glaring deficiencies of the FR-S/BR-Z that the “haters” called out have proven out to be real problems. The car is generally a flop globally and the breathless predictions of the death of the Mustang and Camaro were grossly over blown (I’m not saying EVERYONE said that – but some people sure did).

    The Scion solution is very similar to what GM did when they axed Geo.

    Kill the xB and the xD – they’re completely outdated anyway, and the Kia hampsters are crushing the xB.

    Rename the tC a Corolla Coupe.

    Rename the FR-S a Celica. In putting the logo the Lazy T ranch on the FR-S, the ability to address the Coleman cooler interior plastics, and possibly give it more grumpf under the hood in a true “S” model or TRD package becomes a lot more viable.

    Just end this failed project already.

    • 0 avatar
      Jellodyne

      tC is the Celica, it’s the logical evolution of the last gen Celica. The FR-S can just be the Toyota GT-86 like everywhere else.

      • 0 avatar
        Occam

        Yeah. The Celica was a sporty-styled, two-door car built on the Corona chassis, since approx 1985. The Corona was the car between the Corolla and the Camry, and later renamed to Avensis. The tC is a sporty styled, two-door car built on the Avensis chassis. It fits.

        Corolla coupe does not. The Corolla is mechanically more basic, with the low-power engine (132 hp)and a twist-beam rear axle that could be straight off a Cavalier.

        Here’s the thing about Scion – it is not only a place for Toyota to bring foreign market models, but also a place they can be experimental. The iQ failed, the bB succeeded. The one-price experiment has had mixed success (but there’s clearly a market for it, with a CarMax on every corner). It also gave them a place for the FR-S and the upcoming Mazda2-based sedan, so they could have engineering from other manufacturers that wouldn’t pull down their carefully guarded ratings.

        Their main flaws seem to be poor marketing (they should give the division more leeway in marketing) and a tendency to hold on to long-in-tooth models for too long (xB, xD). Imagine the arrival of a car-based minitruck. Or something along the lines of the Element (with emphasis on the utilitarian fuctions -i.e. converting into a tall panelvan). Or a new MR2. The answer is hardly to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I was an early Scion adopter, I bought a tC in 2004 and it still remains the most reliable car I’ve owned. I really liked mine and my then girlfriend (now wife) liked it too and bought her own.

    Scion was in an excellent position when it started up. 3 good cars to lure future Toyota owners to the brand. And it worked. The trouble is once all those folks traded their Scions in on new Toyotas the demographic had changed and the competition got fierce. Scion did nothing to update the lineup to appeal to the new younger market.

    The introduction of the iQ and FRS was a shot in the arm but neither is what the brand needs which is an affordable good quality modern small car designed in the twenty-teens. Why buy a new Scion when you can get essentially the same thing with low miles for thousands less?
    Do a search for a used tC and see how many options you have. They need to do something to make a new Scion be worth the cost difference of a used one.

    And the iM is not going to be the answer. It’s not different enough to draw attention and the tC is already based off the Auris, so it’s not even a new platform to brag about.

    • 0 avatar
      bomberpete

      Toyota built itself up in the past 20 years as a one-stop brand. They took away all that business that once went to Buick, Mercury, Oldsmobile, Pontiac and Plymouth.

      Those people all drove away happy in their Avalons, Camrys, Corollas and Highlanders. Sure, maybe they went to Honda, Nissan or the Koreans, but they pretty much never looked back.

      Then what does Toyota do? Create another mid-level division. At a time when “luxury” is available in $18K econoboxes. In a market that doesn’t need another bland “brand.” Proving: they’re not always as smart as they think they are.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      …The introduction of the iQ and FRS was a shot in the arm …

      The iQ was not a shot in the arm, it was a complete what were they thinking.

      With a sticker price of almost $16K and their “no haggle” policy, buyers quickly figured out that the Yaris could seat five in a pinch for the same money nicely equipped, and still serve as an urban runabout.

      A stripper LE Corolla was just incrementally a few dollars more. The iQ never sold in any volume, never got high praise from the press, and was underpowered, over priced, and borderline answered a question no one asked.

      For the FR-S, it is a black dot queen for Consumer Reports, dragged the entire quality rating down for the whole brand, and has left all but the most ardent enthusiasts highly disappointed.

      In 2004 I would argue the xB was the best offering Scion had, followed very closely by the tC.

      I’ve written many times the tC is the one thing in the Scion line up worth saving.

      The story of Scion is very similar to that of Saturn at General Motors on a number of fronts, and neglect has killed the brand.

      • 0 avatar
        Land Ark

        Keep in mind, I meant shot in the arm as “new product” versus “viable product.” As in any press is better than no press. Take away the iQ and FRS and all you have 12 years after launch is, essentially, the exact same lineup only heavier and with worse MPG.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        Now that’s REALLY insulting Scion! “The story of Scion is very similar to that of Saturn at General Motors on a number of fronts, …” Really? Maybe you should go back and see how GM killed Saturn by completely changing it away from where it started. Scion isn’t completely changed, though I have to agree it’s headed that way according to appearances. Saturn went from 100% Saturn to 100% Opel starting with the Ion and working its way through Aura, Vue and Sky. GM lost sight of what made the Saturn so popular with its followers and turned it into a generic nobody. Toyota hasn’t–yet–gone that far with the Scion.

        Scion CAN be saved, if they return to what made it take off in the first place. Inexpensive. Customizeable. Fun.

  • avatar
    superchan7

    Toyota didn’t invest in enough new product to keep Scion going. Not only is this evident in the lack of models to sell, but it can also be seen in the lack of updates to existing models.

    The xB is the most practical Scion and has been stale since around 2010. What about more transmission gears to improve MPG? What about a better interior so that buyers don’t sit in a hipster’s jail cell? These are all things Kia did to improve the Soul. Toyota actually has the better platform (the xB is much roomier); too bad the effort isn’t there.

    Neglect.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      But that neglect is pervasive in their lower end models.

      The “new” Yaris still has the same engine and the same 4-speed automatic. This kills the MPG.

      Yes, the Corolla has LED low beams (by all accounts about the worst money can buy), Bluetooth, backup camera goodies. But you can still get one with a 4-speed automatic, steel rims, drum brakes, torsion beam suspension and a motor that can trace its roots back a couple of decades (key words – trace its roots) while the competition is offering more horsepower, more torque, and better MPG. Shoot the 1987 digital clock in the middle of the dashboard still carries over.

      The fullsize truck line is soldiering on with the same 4.7L and 5.7L V8s that offer 2002 MPG tied to the same 5-speed automatic. The competition if you go on Fuelly and do MPG comparisons for the fullsize truck, 2014 model year, are from 4 to 5 MPG combined better. That’s huge in the fullsize truck space.

      The Tacoma also soldiers along with a 5-speed automatic and V6 engines that other makers V6 out power and get better fuel economy. Heck, there are a number of fullsize trucks with V8 engines that get better MPG than the Tacoma now.

      There is a benefit to clinging to older, proven technology, It gets awful reliable.

      Say what you want about the maligned GM W-Bodies, with the 4-speed auto and the NA 3.8L V6 under the hood, they were about as reliable as the sunrise – but they were woefully uncompetitive.

      Toyota has a bigger problem in the lack of innovation department. Right now their buyers don’t care except on some fringes (like the Yaris) – but it is something that needs to be addressed or the huge lead they’ve built for themselves will continue to get chipped away.

      • 0 avatar
        James2

        “Toyota has a bigger problem in the lack of innovation department.”

        Someone else has noticed this. All the new Toyotas (and Lexuses) introduced over the last few years seem like ‘refreshes’ more so than ‘redesigns’. The Corolla wrapped ugly new sheetmetal over largely the same guts, same with the ‘new’ Camry. Most of the new Lexus models carried over the old engines. I’m surprised they bothered to design a new turbo motor for the ugly NX (saw one yesterday, yuk!).

        So, this lack of ‘new’ is certainly affecting Scion. When Toyota doesn’t invest in its namesake brand, why should they spend money here?

        Kill it. Kill it with fire.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        The Church of 3800 approves of your endorsement of our savior, but I also think its important to point out not only does reliability come with model/drivetrain age but also increased OEM profits due to improvements in mfg process and costs over time. Toyota is not running a charity, each year they squeeze out of aged platforms is another year of nice profits combined with high marks from CR, JD power and the like. The irony here IMO is the fact it was the Japanese who were on 3-5 complete re-development cycles until the early 2000s whereas GM and I suppose Ford were criticized for running platforms far too long. Then both GM and Ford to a point ramped up their game and it was Toyota starting about 01 who began stretching out the platforms and drivetrains but they get praise for it in the form of reliability from the masses/media as opposed to scorn for being out of date (true as the reliability may be, 3800 and 60V6 were bulletproof by MY95).

  • avatar
    slyall

    The suggestion to remake the TC a Corolla coupe is great, while you’re at it, how about removing the ugliness in the design and the cheap interior that now plagues the entire Scion brand? Do that and it would sell 10 times what it does now.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Ten times? No way.

      Coupes are stunningly unpopular for the most part.

      If you want a sporty coupe (versus say a true sports or pony car) your options are pretty darn limited:

      Honda Civic
      Scion tC
      Left over Genesis 2.0T 4 and even that is grasping at straws
      CR-Z (also grasping at straws)

      There is no Sentra or Altima coupe anymore.

      No Cruze coupe.

      No Focus coupe.

      No Fiesta coupe.

      No Dart coupe.

      No Impreza coupe.

      No Mazda3 coupe.

      I do believe that Toyota would sell more tCs with the Toyota logo, and would be able to upgrade the interior (but the sticker price will go up to support those upgrades). But 10X more?

      No way.

  • avatar
    JEFFSHADOW

    Bring back OldsmoScionmobile!!
    There’s your new buyer, evidently…

  • avatar
    Stu L Tissimus

    How do kei cars fare in USDM crash tests? It’d be great for Scion to bring over some of the wackier Daihatsu models.

  • avatar

    The tC is the only thing worth saving from that sinking vessel. No one would even miss the FR-S in its current two-dimensional form.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      What about the Subbie FR-S?

      • 0 avatar

        Its an impractical rear-drive slug with no interior volume or optional turbo that you can’t put your dogs in, mount your kayak to, or drive in the snow. That’s what makes this Subaru NOT a Subaru.

        Its a complete aberration in their portfolio. Its got a boxer engine. So? A 1980s VW van had a flat-four, too. And you could even get one with Syncro, so its already more of a Subaru than the BRZ.

        Another sad point: For $800 more than a BRZ Limited, you can get a WRX Premium with MORE power (268 vs 200), WAY more torque (258 vs 151 LOL), AWD, a moonroof, a roomier interior, two more doors, and room for a fifth friend. For $1500 *LESS* on a WRX base you give up heated mirrors.

        Its even worse at Scion. There’s an OVER FIVE-THOUSAND DOLLAR difference between an FR-S and a tC, a car that is for all intents and purposes to the general driving public the same thing. But for LESS money, you get a big, pretty glass roof, bigger wheels, a useful hatchback, a better safety rating (remember who is cosigning for these cars), and the same fuel economy from an engine that FEELS faster because it has more torque down low.

        $5000.

        What would YOU tell your son/daughter they’re getting whether they like it or not?
        And God help that clueless Toyota sales guy who is just thinking of how he’s going to blow his draw at the club tonight. Even if he has a modicum of a clue, how is going to sell the damn thing? “Uh, for $120 more a month, its lighter and rear-drive…?”

        So, again, here’s a car that every armchair enthusiast would love to think about maybe buying in six years when its like $8500 on Craigslist. And its that way because it was pigeonholed from jump street by Toyota’s obfuscated decision to market it with a dumb name attached to a dead brand with ZERO credibility.

        So, no, not worth saving. Unless you want to…

        1) Rebadge it as a Toyota Celica

        2) Offer the current version as the Celica 86 – stripped, clipped, and ready for those who want that featherweight underpowered Prius-rubbered DRIFTAROOO machine.

        3) Offer a Celica with a sunroof, leather, navigation, power seats, myriad wheels, etc. All that crap that people who actually buy cars buy.

        4) Offer a Celica convertible for that 50 year-old realtor who remembered that piece of crap Celica that got her through college. Because she needs something next the her RX or Highlander.

        5) Send me my referral bonus

        6) Profit $$$$

        Or not. They can do none of that and let this thing drift off into oblivion around 2017 when its contract doesn’t get renewed and all the fanbois can lament about how we don’t get it and the average car buyer is stupid and yes-huh, this car is better than the Mustang/Camaro/220i/whatever but its not going to matter because people bought those cars and relatively no one buys the Toyobaru.

        And its Toyota’s fault.

        P.S. It humors me generally that the iQ even exists. Even auctioneers make fun of that thing at the sale. Every one. Every time.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          Great post Flybrian, it really is all Toyota’s fault in this case.

          Do they mock the “Smart” cars too?

        • 0 avatar
          bodayguy

          Holy crap! I own an FR-S and even I have to give you a STANDING OVATION on that comment. Nailed it.

        • 0 avatar
          TMA1

          I realized why the iQ exists when I saw one in Bangkok wearing a different badge. It’s tiny and it’s cheap. I don’t understand why it’s in the US though.

          • 0 avatar
            FormerFF

            Unless you live in an area where there are tiny parking spaces available, it serves no purpose. It’s not appreciably less expensive than is a subcompact, and it doesn’t use sufficiently less fuel to make much of a difference in in its operating costs.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As a brand, Scion was a one-hit wonder with the xB1. My former 05 xB1 was awesome for its time – best car I ever had.

    The xB2 is an example of the fanboys getting what they want, and in the meantime Toyota unwittingly produced a me-too car that lost its distinctive qualities.

    They’ve been lost ever since. Even the FRS isn’t unique, since its cousin is sold by Subaru.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      They were too late to the game. They were Toyota’s attempt to get an in with the Import Enthusiast subculture that had been growing since the early 90s. And were at it’s peak large enough to seem like a sizable chunk of the future Camry market. But the temporary bubble deflation in 2008 kind of killed off that cohort’s spending power.

      Instead, only their grand parents really received much of a purchasing power boost from ever more creative, crazy and destructive ways of propping up the prices of houses noone under 30 would ever be able to afford anyway.

  • avatar
    Spike_in_Brisbane

    I would like to see a comparison graph of those same cars but in other parts of the world where they were just sold as Toyotas.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I know this has been argued by folks far beyond me in terms of knowledge and understanding, but its clear in my eyes Scion was a mistake and should be reduced to one or two models at most. Depending on how those limited models sell, either keep the brand going for those models or quietly fold the brand.

  • avatar
    Dave M.

    There’s certainly room for the tC; elongate the xB by 6 inches to pull the front base of the windshield forward to get rid of the tunnel-vision, and make a sunroof available; work with Subaru and co-develop a mini-mini-van (a little larger and more refined than the Mazda5), as well as a small AWD urban pick-up truck (ala Scamp/Brat).

    Scion needs to be Toyota’s whimsey value branch. Remember the Nissan Figaro? That was whimsey; imagine how well a rounded-corner three-box sedan or wagon would sell. Maybe not in the millions, but certainly enough to break even and improve rep.

  • avatar
    Occam

    I thought about this, and the kneejerk Scion group-think really overlooks just how influential the cars have been. In 2003, the first xA’s and xB’s started arriving. Subcompacts existed before that, but were always penalty boxes – hand-cranked windows, power nothing, etc. The xA and xB arrived loaded to the gills, comparatively, and their popularity with 40+ year old buyers showed the automakers that small hatchbacks could sell well if they were well appointed. They weren’t just throwaway cars for college kids selling pizzas.

    The first tC arrived in 2004, and became the top-selling model. Apparently putting a 160 hp grown-up engine in a small car coupe with a functional back seat was a hit, just as other makes were eliminating their small coupes.

    The fall in their sales seems mostly tied to their market becoming saturated and their offerings not evolving with it. If you wanted a small car in 2004 with lots of space inside, your choices were very limited. A small, inexpensive car with standard power-everything, stability control, ABS, iPod connectivity, and Toyota reputation for being bulletproof? Almost exclusively Scion.

    I see the appearance of the Fit, Soul, Versa, and their ilk as a direct result of Scion.

  • avatar
    Occam

    For fun with charts, here’s the Miata MX-5 sales since 2005 compared to Scion overall sales. Scion always seems to sell about 10 times more cars overall than the Miata.

    •http://imgur.com/kzXQpKz

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • RHD: High real estate costs are driving residents from California. Meanwhile, the fantastic climate, varied geography...
  • EBFlex: “ While the official explanation from the manufacturer was that an authorized third-party shop may have...
  • RHD: It was going to be called the McLaren Arturo, but once the first prototype was finished, it was clearly female.
  • stuki: “ICE vehicles causing permafrost to melt could potentially release ancient viruses that might make COVID...
  • stuki: Station wagons are being eaten alive, sales wise, by compact CUVs (and mpvs) in Europe. More cramped cities,...

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber