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Scion is dead

The value-oriented brand has given up the ghost, but most of its models will live on with a Toyota badge.


We might have seen the Cadillac ELR's demise a mile away, but the rather sudden death of Scion caught many by surprise. The youth-oriented brand, meant to shepherd buyers up through Toyota's ranks, is moving to that great dealership in the sky after nearly 13 years on this planet.

In a statement, the company acknowledged that Scion would be absorbed into the Toyota brand. "This isn't a step backward for Scion; it's a leap forward for Toyota," said Jim Lentz, now the CEO of Toyota Motor North America (he was formerly a founding VP of Scion).

Looking at sales numbers paints a grim picture for the value-conscious brand. In 2015, Scion sold a shade over 56,000 vehicles, which amounts to about two months' worth of Toyota Camry sales. It started off well, but sales peaked in 2006, and its cars seemed to lose some of the inherent quirkiness that piqued interest early on.

But there was promise! Scion gave us a look at the C-HR concept, which was supposed to presage a new compact crossover for the brand. The company also rolled out two models very recently, the iM and iA, and both were generally well received. And, of course, there's the always-good-for-a-bit-of-fun, rear-wheel-drive FR-S.

The statement says that model-year 2017 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas, but not every model will survive the jump. The FR-S, iA and iM will move over, as will the forthcoming production version of the C-HR, but the tC will not live beyond the 2016 model year. All current Scion customers can continue to visit Toyota dealerships for service. It appears that Scion's team, some 22 strong across marketing, sales and distribution roles, will be offered positions within Toyota, as well.

From experiments with no-haggle pricing, to the "monospec" idea that did away with options packages, Scion was a company that did things a little differently, even if it was attached to a company that's used to change on a geological time scale (Toyota). Requiescat in pace.