Spannerhead Dot

Should Scion Be Downsized?

July 6, 2012 by Matt

Scion Logo Trade Show Display

Car and Driver‘s Aaron Robinson grapples with this question, and leans toward the affirmative:

Scion is a brand conceived in a focus group, born in a fluorescent-lit marketing department, and wet-nursed by copious spreadsheets and PowerPoint presentations. It can claim no pedigree, no history. No Mr. Scion ever lived to turn his personal ambition into automobiles. When you buy a Scion, you buy into something akin to a second-year MBA’s class project on ways to penetrate the youth market by a car company that pins its fortunes almost entirely on aging baby boomers…

I have no doubt that Scion will eventually go the way of Plymouth.

Robinson touches on marketing and project development missteps by the brand, including redesigning their distinctive and successful first-generation xB econobox and tC sports coupe into anonymous, blobby shadows of their former selves. Although I agree with Robinson’s assessment on that point, I don’t think it’s entirely fair to lump in the brand with other defunct nameplates like Mercury, Saturn or even Oldsmobile and Pontiac. A primary reason for the demise of the marques listed was an utter lack of a market in comparison with their badge-engineered stablemates from the same overarching automaker (Ford, General Motors). Scion doesn’t have any internal competition at Toyota, and its mission to offer cars in the low-cost-yet-fun category is much better defined than that of Mercury or Oldsmobile, for example. There’s still a reason to keep Scion around, even if its parent company flounders somewhat in marketing its cars. Opportunity is still present, even if untapped.

Furthermore, from the perspective of an enthusiast, a multiplicity of nameplates is a welcome thing. In a day and age when brands are being euthanized right and left—Saab being the latest to kick the bucket—we should welcome diversity in contrast to an overweening corporate homogenization. Does any true car buff look forward to the prospect of a growing number of increasingly bland cars cranked out by just two or three automakers? No—more brands means more minds solving the same problems, more innovation, and more interest. That isn’t to say we should keep a brand on life support just to keep a nameplate alive in the absence of a worthy product, but in the case of Scion, compelling reasons do exist to maintain the marque, and other issues such as racing pedigree and history, although they take time, can be developed.

Filed under: Car Industry, Scion, Toyota

Leave a Reply