It’s Been Real (Weird)

Scion leaves with an important, lasting legacy
by Dan Nied
March/April 2016
It’s Been Real (Weird)
Less than one year after the brand’s launch, more than 1,300 owners and enthusiasts gathered in El Toro, Calif., to celebrate Scion. Designed as a pacesetter for change and laboratory for experimentation, many of Scion’s successes have been transferred to Toyota.
Scion began at the dawn of a new century, as a new effort to understand a brand new generation.

“We were looking at Generation Y. Back then, they were too young to buy cars,” says Jim Lentz, the brand’s first vice president and now Toyota Motor North America CEO.

“We knew that we needed to understand that generation really well or we were going to be challenged into the future. That’s why we developed Scion.”
The breathtaking Scion FR-S will become the Toyota 86 when it debuts this fall.

So in June 2003, Scion launched with the delightfully boxy xB.

Toaster comparisons aside, the car instantly became its first iconic vehicle, inspiring devoted followers just as quickly as it deflected haters.

Mono-spec vehicles gave customers a blank canvas. Customization gave them a chance to make their cars deeply personal. A one-price selling model assuaged the traditional fears of first-time car buyers. Spurred by enthusiastic supporters, Scion took chances, undeterred by the people who just didn’t understand.

Scion served as Toyota’s laboratory for experimentation: From nontraditional marketing and bold new colors to one-price selling and speeding up transaction times.

“We have transferred a lot of those practices to the Toyota side.” Lentz says. “Scion’s done its job. If I fast forward a couple years from now, Toyotas are going to be fun to drive with great styling and the latest technology—all the things that are really important to young people. The sales process is evolving to become quicker and more transparent. All of that was driven by Scion.”

Now, the brand is focused on closing out its inventory.

“It’s been a good run and now we’re working hard to provide the incentives and tools for sales associates to find new homes for our remaining Scion vehicles,” Gilleland says. “We are committed to creating a smooth transition to Toyota and we appreciate everyone’s effort and energy to help Scion go out with a bang.”    
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