Scion (automobile)

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SCION
TypeBrand
IndustryAutomotive industry
Founded2002
HeadquartersTorrance, California, US
Area servedUnited States and Canada
Key peopleDoug Murtha (VP, US)[1]
ProductsEconomy cars
ParentToyota Motor Corporation
WebsiteScion.com
 
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This article is about the car division of Toyota. For other uses, see Scion.
SCION
TypeBrand
IndustryAutomotive industry
Founded2002
HeadquartersTorrance, California, US
Area servedUnited States and Canada
Key peopleDoug Murtha (VP, US)[1]
ProductsEconomy cars
ParentToyota Motor Corporation
WebsiteScion.com

Scion is a brand of vehicles produced by Toyota Motor Corporation for the North American market. Founded in 2002, Scion's long-term goal is to appeal to Generation Y consumers. The first Scion models, the xA hatchback and xB wagon, went on sale in California in 2003,[2] followed by a sports coupe, the tC, and a nationwide U.S. launch in 2004.[2] A successor to the xA, the xD,[3] premiered in 2008, and the Scion marque expanded to Canada in 2010.[4] The Scion lineup uses a one-trim, simplified purchase process,[3] and the marque has relied upon guerrilla and viral marketing techniques. The Scion name, meaning the descendant of a family or heir, refers both to the brand's cars and their owners.[2] The brand was launched originally with promises of short product cycle and value based partly on low dealer margins which became difficult to keep as sales fell after the economic downturn.[5]

History[edit]

In 1999, Toyota launched Project Genesis, an effort to bring younger buyers to the Toyota marque in the United States.[6] This project aimed to create a "marque within a marque" in sales and advertising strategy for compact and coupe models sold by Toyota.[6] The effort, which included the introduction of the Toyota Echo economy car, along with late generation Toyota MR-2 and Toyota Celica models, was judged unsuccessful and cancelled in 2001.[6] In response, Toyota chose to launch a separate marque, an effort called Project Exodus. A Los Angeles-based digital design company, Fresh Machine, was retained by Toyota to develop the brand, logo, and website. This project became known as Scion.[6][7] Toyota had previously participated in a project in Japan with other Japanese companies who attempted to market products to younger buyers. Toyota manufactured three vehicles under the WiLL brandname, which were exclusive to Toyota NETZ Store Japanese dealerships.

Scion is marketed as a youth brand and was first introduced in March 2002, at the New York Auto Show. There were just two concept vehicles, the bbX (which became the xB), and the ccX (which became the tC).[8] The 2004 xA and xB were unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show on January 2, 2003. They were available only in 105 Toyota dealerships in California at their initial launch on June 9, 2003. The subsequent rollout of the brand to the South, the Southeast, and the East Coast occurred in February 2004. Scion vehicles were available nationwide in June 2004, coinciding with the release of the 2005 tC.[2] On December 16, 2006, Scion unveiled the next-generation xB, based on the t2B concept, and the new xD, successor of the xA, at an invitation-only, no-camera event in Miami. Both cars were then publicly unveiled on February 8, 2007 at the 2007 Chicago Auto Show.[9]

Scion Hako concept

Toyota Canada Inc. announced that the Scion brand will be available in September 2010 at 45 selected dealers starting in Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver, followed by other cities. Launch models include tC, xD, xB. The Toyota iQ shown in Tokyo will be sold in Canada as a Scion model, starting in 2011 as a 2012 model.[10] The first new Scions were shown in Canada at the 2009 Montreal International Auto Show.[11] Toyota has also duplicated their efforts to achieve the same objective in their home market in Japan, renaming its Toyota Vista Store retail dealership sales channels as "Netz Store" in 2004, with all Scion vehicles branded as Toyotas, and exclusive to Netz locations. According to Toyota, "Netz" is an acronym that means "N etwork of E nergetic T eams for Z enith".

Lineup[edit]

Scion tC
Scion iQ

Scion currently has five models: the second-generation tC, a 3-door liftback based on the European-marketed Toyota Avensis sedan; the second-generation xB, a 5-door box-shaped compact wagon sold as the Toyota Corolla Rumion in the Japanese market; the iQ, an ultra-compact city car first going on sale in the western United States in December 2011;[12] the xD, a 5 door-subcompact car that is sold in Japan as the second generation Toyota ist, which is based on the Yaris platform with the tenth-generation Corolla's engine;[13] and a rear-wheel drive sport car, the FR-S.

In April 2012, Jack Hollis (Vice President of Scion) announced that the xB and xD will be dropped after 2012, supposedly in favor of all new models from Toyota's hatchback division, Daihatsu.[14] In the meantime, Scion will focus its sales heavily on the iQ passenger car and the FR-S sports coupe, alongside the second generation tC. As of April 2013, both the Canadian and US Scion websites continue to sell the xB and xD with mild facelifts.[15]

Pricing, accessories, and availability[edit]

Scion uses sales tools such as "Pure Price" and monospec trim levels with a wide selection of factory and TRD accessories.[16] Extensive market research and testing with Generation Y consumers formed the basis of the Scion badge.

"Pure Price" means that the price posted, whether on the vehicle, in an advertisement, or on a menu display board in the dealership, is the price customers will pay. This includes vehicles, accessories, finance and insurance products.[17] Pure Price is designed to ensure a shorter and simpler process, eliminating all negotiation, though it is commonly seen that dealers will sometimes add aftermarket accessories to the car in order to mark them up and increase profit on the sale. The concept aims to be open and consistent to all customers. The concept is not new to the American market, having been introduced in the early 1990s by the Geo and Saturn marques of General Motors.[3]

Scion's sales approach thus differs greatly from that of the larger Toyota entity. In the United States, for instance, the Toyota Camry offers several trim levels: the Camry grade CE "Classic Edition" (for budget-conscious drivers), LE "Luxury Edition" (popularly equipped), SE "Special Edition" (for sporty drivers), and XLE "Extra Luxury Edition" (for luxury-minded drivers).[18] In contrast, all Scions have one standard trim level (monospec) and are designed to be uniquely customized for the driver.[3]

Post-production accessories[edit]

Aftermarket customized Scion tC

Scion offers about 150 different accessories;[19] other after-market companies through the Optōmize Scion program offer to add other accessories, as well.[20] For example, one can add a subwoofer as well as different types of decals. The tC had offered an optional supercharger to increase power from 161 to 200 hp (120 to 150 kW), but this option was since discontinued in 2007. All accessories are sold individually, and do not require special packages. However, some options, such as Ground Effects, do prevent other accessories (such as mud flaps) from being installed.

Companies that participate in the Optōmize Scion program include GReddy, OBX, RÄZO, a few car detailing companies, and others.[21]

Release series[edit]

Beginning in the second quarter of 2004 with the launch of the 2004 Scion xB RS 1.0 (Release Series 1.0), followed by the Scion xA RS 1.0, Scion decided to create limited edition vehicles pre-packaged with exclusive accessories in limited quantities.[22] Limited Edition vehicles from a marketing standpoint were used to create a buzz for the brand name, with their exterior colors tending to be loud or bright hues (e.g. orange, yellow, red, blue, green).[23] Because of the growing popularity of the Scion product line and the scarce production runs (most dealers only get 2-3 of each RS model), these limited edition vehicles quickly sold out. Pre-ordering is available at each dealership on a first-come, first-served basis. To the customer's benefit, Scion's "Pure Price" MSRP bounds dealerships against market-demand vehicle mark-up.[17] Naturally, resale values of Release Series vehicles command a premium because of their packaged options and scarcity.[24]

Scion xB RS 1.0

2004

2005

Scion tC RS 1.0

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Target market[edit]

The median age of a Toyota consumer was, as of February 2007, 54 years old. Comparatively, Scion's average buyer age is the lowest in the industry, at 39 years old.[46]

Initially, Scion's first two cars (the xA and xB), while unusual for American roads, have been well received among consumers not interested in standard entry-level vehicles.[3] The tC was also well received with brisk sales.[47]

The best selling year of the marque since introduction was 2006 with 173,000 vehicles sold. But sales slid since then to 57,961 vehicles in 2009. By 2010, the tC has become the mainstay of the brand, accounting for over 40% of all Scion sold since the brand was established.[48] In the U.S., sales of the xB have been dropping after the introduction of the second generation, from a peak of over 60,000 to 17,017 in 2011; sales of the xD fell to 9,573 in 2011 from 32,603 in 2006.[49]

Advertising[edit]

Scion Fuse concept

To advertise Scion, Toyota began a promotional campaign using a form of guerrilla marketing, using posters and ads in movie theaters and TV to direct consumers to its various "want2bsquare" web sites.[16][20] Scion's marketing endeavors extended to sponsorships, such as that of VBS.tv's show, Thumbs Up!, which features David Choe hitchhiking across the United States. Scion sponsored two commercials featuring Concours race car driver Matt Verbin during the Castle Hill Concours d'Elegance, which show him racing a custom painted yellow and orange xB on Cambridge streets. Scion also teamed with Gaia Online, providing the xB,xD, and tC as a choice for user cars, as well as other things across the site.[50]

2006 Scion tC

Scion also uses smaller, regional viral campaigns to reach niche demographics. Online campaigns such as Scion xPressionism allow the user to modify and design his own Scion with graphics, decals, and aftermarket car parts.[51] Online advertising, much of it quirky and offbeat, is part of Scion's marketing mix for both these campaigns and for the launch of new models. Shows like Slick's Picks go around the country interviewing artists, stores, and events; and puts short videos on the site. Scion Radio 17 is an internet-radio initiative that features 17 non-mainstream channels, ranging from rock and hip hop to electro and soul.[52] Scion AV serves as the brand's lifestyle marketing initiative, funding projects in music, art, and film.[53][54]

In August 2008, Scion released the "United by Individuality" ad campaign, featuring over 300 Scion owners' vehicles in various magazine articles, commercials, and billboards. The latest commercial video shows a convoy of Scions parading through the desert in Boulder City, Nevada. These videos and ads can be seen on Scion's website.[55]

Scion community[edit]

In February 2009 Scion founded a monthly podcast called the "Scion A/V Podcast".[56] The Scion A/V podcast series presents exclusive artist interviews, event coverage, and info about upcoming events and releases.

Current struggles[edit]

Sales of the Scion brand were down to a low of 45,678 in 2010, compared to over 170,000 in MY 2006. The management tried to resuscitate the brand, hoping to sell 35,000 to 45,000 tC in a year after the model was redesigned in 2011.[57] The iQ's sales have dropped more than 60% from 2012, and the xD's sales are projected to be under 9,000 for 2013. In late 2013, Toyota announced that Toyota dealers can drop the flagging Scion marque without penalty (though this could be a step away from the previous penalties of not adhering to the "Pure Price" policy within Scion).[citation needed][clarification needed]

It was reported that the CEO of Toyota Motor told Scion dealers in mid-2013 that there would not be any new vehicles for the brand in the next couple of years.[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ a b c d "Overview: The ScionStory". MSN Autos. 2009. 
  3. ^ a b c d e "Edmunds.com Scion Overview". Edmunds.com. 
  4. ^ Raymond, Sylvain (2010-11-24). "2011 Scion tC: The sportiest Toyota". Carguideweb.com. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  5. ^ a b Rechtin, Mark (2014-01-20). "As it matures, Scion is rethinking its image". Automotive News. Retrieved 2014-01-21. 
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  42. ^ "Scion's exclusive on the Scorching Hot Lava xB Release Series 9.0". IrishSushi. 
  43. ^ "Scion's exclusive on the Blizzard Pearl xD Release Series 4.0". IrishSushi. 
  44. ^ Aaron Richardson (2011-06-27). "Scion tC Release Series 7.0 has red start button, is Zeus-approved". Autoblog.com. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  45. ^ "Scion Announces Pricing for 2013 tC Release Series 8.0" (Press release). US: Scion. 2010-07-10. Retrieved 2013-12-17. 
  46. ^ Ohnsman, Alan (2007-02-08). "Asia". Bloomberg.com. Retrieved 2012-01-08. 
  47. ^ Nauman, Matt (2005-07-16). "Article: Younger buyers drive strong Scion sales". San Jose Mercury News. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  48. ^ Alex Taylor III (2010-09-24). "Will Toyota's Scion avoid Saturn's fate?". Fortune. 
  49. ^ Nicholas Maronese (2012-04-24). "Scion killing off xB, xD models". Sympatico autos. 
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  52. ^ "Scion’s Internet Radio Station, iPhone App". Radio Business Report. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  53. ^ Halliday, Jean (2005-04-04). "Scion brand enters the music business". Automotive News. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
  54. ^ Sisario, Ben (2011-09-27). "Toyota Scion is Backing Indie Bands to Sell Cars". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-07. 
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  57. ^ Krebs, Michelle (2010-09-15). "Toyota Seeks to Double Scion tC Sales with New Version". Edmunds. Retrieved 2014-01-22. 

External links[edit]

Official websites: Canada, US