Despite being conceived by corporate giant Toyota, Scion painstakingly built its reputation on being something of an offbeat, youth-minded brand, working hard to establish individualist, almost hipster-like credentials. So it comes as something of a surprise to hear WardsAuto report that Scion has a whopping 1,000 dealers across America – just 200 fewer than Toyota itself. This, despite a much smaller product portfolio and a sliver of the sales volume.

All those factors may explain why Bill Fay, US group vice president for Toyota, is admitting to the industry publication that its dealer network "might actually go down a little bit." As it stands, the volume end of the equation is probably an even bigger incentive – Scion's sales are way down from the salad days of the mid-2000s, when the brand had fewer models but sold more of them. With the (then) white-hot xB and tC models, Scion shifted 173,034 units in 2006, while Ward's notes the marque's 2013 sales are only at 41,261 units through July. In the story, AutoPacific analyst Dave Sullivan observes that other low-volume brands have far fewer dealer points, noting that Mini has just 115 dealer points and Infiniti has 200. By Sullivan's estimate, he would expect to see 350-500 Scion stores based on its sales figures.

Dealer question aside, the bigger issue is where the brand goes from here, and Fay admits Toyota is studying a number of different strategies, including possibly going "small-premium." Nothing is finalized, though according to Ward's, Fay discounts the idea that the FR-S – the brand's sales bright spot – will drive the brand to consider a more driver-oriented lineup.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 66 Comments
      axiomatik
      • 1 Year Ago
      What Toyota should do with Scion (and their billions of dollars of profit ($5.6 Billion in the last quarter alone)), is use it to bring to market off-beat concept cars. Things completely outside the usual fare. Break some molds. Vehicles like the Toyota A-BAT, i-Road, Hybrid X, Me.We, Camatte, etc. Use Scion as an incubator to experiment with completely new concepts, and see what generates buzz in the marketplace. Maybe Scion won't turn a profit with really oddball cars, but it can be a valuable market research tool if properly utilized.
        ShadyEye16
        • 1 Year Ago
        @axiomatik
        That's what Toyota created Scion for. The first-gen cars were like that, different looking, different sales process, mono-spec vehicles, tons of dealer-installed options, & open to the aftermarket. Toyota execs at the time said one of their principle strategies was to replace models every 3 years (instead of the industry norm of 5) to keep things fresh. Look at it now, the xB/xD are old (like, OLD), the tC got fat, the iQ would be great at $10k-$12k but not $16k, and the FR-S, while it is a cool, fun to drive car, isn't a volume seller and was not meant to be. The point of having a "Halo Car" is to drive attention to the rest of your brand, but when the rest of your brand is, well, ugly and old, you don't really want to have a cool halo car to compare to; as it only makes the rest of the lineup look worse. I don't think Scions need to have a coherent design theme like a mainline brand, but they do need to each be able to stand on their own for being different, in a good way.
      Gorgenapper
      • 1 Year Ago
      Not a surprise, since I'd imagine that these Scion dealerships are attached to the main Toyota dealership. At least that's the way dealers in Canada do it. A Scion dealership by itself is dead in the water. How about Scion just roll their products into the Toyota lineup, and stop trying to sell their stuff to hipsters using dubstep. Just call it FR-S the Toyota GT-86, and all of the other alphabet soup cars get dropped or renamed to something else. For example... the tC becomes the 'Arista' or something. But you know, that would make too much sense.
      Feurig
      • 1 Year Ago
      The dealerships are not expensive because they aren't stand-alone. They are mixed with Toyota dealerships, so who cares how many they have. It's so cheap.
      Will
      • 1 Year Ago
      Sure... Then they will sell more! The truth is, Scion tries too hard to be something that it's not. You cannot decide in some boardroom somewhere that you want to be "cool." They just end up looking inauthentic. To a generation that is numb to marketing, there efforts have the opposite effect. They should stop pretending they are a small car company born in a warehouse in California, and just show us their cars, and tell us why we should buy them.
        superchan7
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Will
        Hear, hear. Upgrade the interiors (keep their sweet head units, we like 'em), spice up the style and run against Mini Countryman, Fiat 500L. There's a lot of potential in this segment, but marketing dollars won't bring the young and trendy into your dealers. It's all about the product.
      PICKLEBOY
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem is all their cars (except FRS & maybe tC) haven't had any major updates since their launch. What do these car companies not understand??? you can't keep making great sales with the same product year after year. Thats why Ford stopped making the Ranger, because its sales were "poor" they didnt consider the fact they had been using a platform that was outdated...
      Teleny411
      • 1 Year Ago
      How long until Scion joins Saturn?
      Scooter
      • 1 Year Ago
      I blame all the hooligans putting dime store "exhausts" on these things. The brand seems to cater mostly to young girls and guys that think a Scion TC is a Ferrari.
      icemilkcoffee
      • 1 Year Ago
      Toyota makes more profits than the Big 3 combined, and has been doing so for along time at that. It is hard to imagine, with all that money in the bank, that they could not come up up anything half way interesting. Scions lineup, aside from the BR-Z, is just depressing.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @icemilkcoffee
        [blocked]
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
          axiomatik
          • 1 Year Ago
          Well, they did last quarter, which, I am guessing, is what icemilkcoffee is referring to. Most recent quarterly net profits: Ford - $1.2 Billion GM - $1.2 Billion Chrysler - $507 Million Total - $ 2.9 Billion Toyota - $5.6 Billion
          • 1 Year Ago
          [blocked]
      protovici
      • 1 Year Ago
      Let us buy direct from the manufacturer!
      whofan
      • 1 Year Ago
      How about tearing a page out of the GM history book and killing the Scion brand. Put the Toyota name on these fun cars. Market a Toyota brand to the young people.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @whofan
        [blocked]
      JaredN
      • 1 Year Ago
      The problem with Scion isn't the number of dealers. Scion's problem is, and always has been, the product. Until the FRS, they didn't have a compelling product, and the FRS isn't enough to carry the brand on its own.
        DK
        • 1 Year Ago
        @JaredN
        Sales are DOWN with the FRS now, so apparently it isn't as compelling as the old XB and TC.
      rbnhd1144
      • 1 Year Ago
      Scions have got boring, the XB should have stayed small, the first US series XB's are still popular and fetch a good price, Toyota should have expanded the line up and included the Toyota BB in front and 4wd, its available in other parts of the world why not here??? Toyota should have brought more small Japanesse Toyota and Diahatsu products here, there is no need to develop new specific products for America, there is plenty of product in Japan that would work for Scion, a Basic pick up would have been a good addition. The brand was created to bring youth into the Toyota fold, many older folks bought these cars, thats not exactly a bad thing, you sell to whomever has the money.
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