It’s not a good sign for an automaker when dealers want to opt out of selling its cars.
Believe it or not, that’s exactly what’s happening to Toyota.
Scion, the decade-old brand that Toyota debuted to target young people with entry-level cars, has stagnated.
Here’s the problem: Youth-focused cars should either age with their audience or stay fresh to attract more young people. Toyota has done neither with Scion, and now sales have jumped off a cliff. Older people don’t want a mediocre relic from the past, and younger people don’t want the cars their older brothers thought were cool a decade ago.
With the exception of the FR-S, Scion dealers don’t have anything new or exciting to sell, and some would rather opt out than keep new Scions on the showroom floor.
Another ominous sign:
According to Automotive News, Toyota is letting Scion dealers out of their franchise agreements without penalty.
Toyota is obviously aware of the problem in Scion-land, and letting dealers weed themselves out while it comes up with a new product strategy is actually really smart.
There are currently about 30% more Scion dealers than Toyota anticipated when it launched the brand. That sounds like good news on the surface, but the novelty of Scion wore off after about 3 years of existence. Deliveries have dropped significantly in the 7 years since, which has left a major oversupply of dealers. That’s not good for a brand that doesn’t have anything new to offer.
Aside from a convertible FR-S that seems imminent, there could be a new small CUV on the way for the Scion range. Will that be enough to energize Scion and reward the dealers who stick around? Probably not. It would make more sense to me if Toyota discontinued Scion, introduced the new CUV as a Toyota, and rebadged the FR-S as a Toyota GT-86, as it’s known in the rest of the world.
A Scion might not be the best new-car decision, but could be a great used-car choice. Which, at this rate, might be the only way to get one in the coming years.
Which new Scion model would you consider?