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Toyota to Kill Scion Brand

4 Février 2016 - Autoblog

Toyota to Kill Scion Brand

Toyota Motor Co. said Wednesday it will kill its youth-oriented Scion brand, ending a 13-year experiment that attracted new customers but ultimately drained resources from the parent company.

The FR-S sports car, iA sedan, and iM five-door hatchback will be re-badged as Toyotas starting in August for the 2017 model year, and the tC coupe will end production then. The C-HR displayed at the Los Angeles Auto Show will become a Toyota vehicle when it launches. Scion's 22 dedicated team members will be given opportunities to join Toyota.

Toyota says it made the decision in response to customers' needs, noting it finds younger buyers want practicality in addition to the individualistic styling and features that Scion offered. Meanwhile, Toyota's own vehicles have gotten sportier, which the company says appeals to younger buyers.

Scion claimed some successes, pointing to its average customer age of 36 years old, with 70 percent of its buyers new to Toyota. Scion sold more than a million vehicles since it launched. Its best year was 2006, when it sold 173,034 vehicles. Sales declined steadily in 2007-08 and then crashed in 2009 during the recession to 57,961 units, before bottoming out in 2010 with only 45,678 sales.

"This isn't a step backward for Scion; it's a leap forward for Toyota. Scion has allowed us to fast track ideas that would have been challenging to test through the Toyota network," said Jim Lentz, founding vice president of Scion and now CEO, Toyota Motor North America. "I was there when we established Scion and our goal was to make Toyota and our dealers stronger by learning how to better attract and engage young customers. I'm very proud because that's exactly what we have accomplished."

While Scion never recovered from its drastic sales decline, it served as a test bed for marketing and dealer tactics that helped its parent company. Scion tried out no-haggle pricing, a streamlined option plan (some cars had only two choices: color and transmission) and a pre-paid maintenance plan.

"We appreciate our 1,004 Scion dealers and the support they've given the brand," said Bob Carter, Toyota senior vice president of automotive operations. "We believe our dealers have gained valuable insights and have received a strong return on their investment. During this time of transition, we will work closely with them to support this process and help communicate this change to customers."

Stephanie Brinley, a senior analyst with IHS Automotive, compared Scion to General Motors' failed niche brand, Saturn. "Two industry lessons to be learned from Scion are similar to those that GM should have learned from its Saturn experiment: A brand will not be successful without consistent, sustained, long-term support," she said. "Nor can it be successful on a long-term basis if its strongest differentiation is wrapped around the approach to sales and service, rather than from a vibrant product range."

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