June 10, 2023

Taylor Daily Press

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20 Years After the Scion: Why Toyota’s Youth Are Making Its Time

Although Scion (pronounced “Saaion”) was founded twenty years ago, it has never reached that age. This fits somewhere, because Scion had to be young above all else. While Lexus—another Toyota subsidiary—had to fulfill the traditional premium role, the Scion was intended to appeal to a younger target group. More specifically, this is about young Americans, because the brand was designed in and for the United States. In Los Angeles, the brand name, logo and strategy took shape. Model sales were limited to the United States and Canada as of 2010.

Besides potentially attracting a younger clientele, the Scion had another advantage for Toyota. For example, it could try things under the Scion banner that it wouldn’t dare do under the well-known powerful Toyota name. After all, if the experience in question had a negative impact on the brand’s image, it was not or hardly reflected on Toyota itself. And try, these boys and girls from Scion did. Looking back, we can say that the brand was ahead of its time, because it did things that we have come to take for granted. For example, Scion wanted a compact and streamlined model range, having only one version of each model. However, there were so many options, that cars could still be highly customized. Scion has also tried to toy with the traditional dealership model, just as many new EV brands are doing. Under the name “Pure Process Plus,” transparent pricing was introduced, without the haggling so common in the United States. Part of the purchase can soon be made online. Concerns have also been mitigated in other ways, for example by offering a flat maintenance package with no surprises afterwards. Looks modern, right?

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Scion’s models naturally followed the brand’s youthful philosophy, though some were more edgy than others. In most cases, Toyota made it relatively easy by offering cars that were marketed as Toyota elsewhere in the world under the Scion brand name in North America. It all started with the Scion xB, an upgraded version of the Toyota BB sold in Japan. This first generation bB/xB was never sold in Europe, but the second generation came in at list price here as the Daihatsu Materia. Compared to that car, the predecessor was more squared-down and therefore more pointed in shape. Scion has actually managed to turn it into something of a cult car, so there’s still plenty of first-generation bBs floating around with the bottom just above the street and huge speakers behind the rear seats.

Descendant XP (2004).

The car was followed by the less flashy xA and tC, a coupe in the spirit of the Celica. You see: Salil was also far ahead of his time in terms of ambiguous naming. If we take the entire range of Scion over the years, “Compact” stands out as the common denominator. Scion was actually no larger than Part C, the latter being interpreted by iM, among others. He took as a basis for this the descendant of the European car Toyota, namely Auris.


descendant im.

The iM certainly isn’t the only acknowledgment descendant of Toyota’s European range. The Scion iQ was a Toyota iQ, the Scion xD was a Toyota Urban Cruiser and the Scion FR-S was what we know as the Toyota GT86.

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a descendant of iA.

The 2016 Scion iA is absolutely gorgeous. This is not a Toyota, but a Mazda 2 sedan. Exactly the opposite of the Mazda 2 Hybrid. As a descendant, the iA single model year has always remained rare, but as the Toyota Yaris iA, it lived on for several more years. Other descendants mostly suffered the same fate after the brand was dropped in 2016, and it has continued as Toyota. According to Toyota, the Scion no longer fit the zeitgeist thirteen years after its launch, which was reflected in disappointing sales.

In the video below, Scion takes you on a journey through a short but intense history that we have never known before in Europe. What do you think, will Scion work in 2023?