An offshoot of Toyota, Scion is one of the more recent addition additions to the automotive landscape, to be equal parts youth division and product/advertising test bed.
But before Scion's story can be told, first one must know of Toyota's Project Genesis, an effort to start a "marque within a marque" by marketing existing products like the Echo, MR-2 and Celica specifically to younger buyers, a demographic with which the Toyota felt it was...
underperforming. Ultimately, the initiative returned disappointing results, and the plug was pulled after just two years.
Hoping to apply the lessons learned from Project Genesis, Toyota launched a follow-up called Project Exodus in 2002 to once again court the youth market. But this time, with the help of an outsourced marketing and digital design company, Toyota created both new vehicles and a new brand - Scion - in order to forge an entirely separate identity from the automaker's traditional models.
Scion's goal was to offer affordable vehicles that made use of funky styling, exciting colors, trendy interiors and prices that made sense to first-time new car buyers. Long-term, Toyota hoped to build brand loyalty and eventually shift Scion buyers into more expensive Toyota and Lexus models.
The brand enjoyed strong initial sales due to models like the xB, a stylish box on wheels that proved as practical and efficient as it was attractive. Buyers also appreciated the simplicity of Scion's monospec trim level strategy - which did away with the myriad of options and packages that are common in the industry - along with the ease of the "Pure Price" no-haggling buying process.
As the years went by, Scion began to be somewhat neglected by Toyota, which sometimes failed to introduce the new models needed to keep buyers flowing into showrooms. Furthermore, what redesigned vehicles did arrive were sometimes perceived to be less trendy than their predecessors, and older consumers soon made up a larger share of Scion's customers than Toyota had initially hoped.
More recently, Toyota has breathed life into the Scion by launching the FR-S, a small, rear-wheel-drive sports car aimed at enthusiasts. Though the coupe won't be able to single-handedly return Scion to relevance, it has brought much needed excitement and sales volume to brand, giving the youth division solid momentum to build off of in the future.