Scion Brand Seen Struggling in the Market Place


Detroit News

Ten years after Toy­ota Motor Corp. launched its youth-oriented Scion marque, the brand has been strug­gling in both sales and qual­ity ratings.

Find out more about the sit­u­a­tion from Toy­ota VP Doug Murtha.

Ten years after Toy­ota Motor Corp. launched its youth-oriented Scion mar­que, the brand is struggling.

Only one Scion prod­uct is doing well this year, the new FR-S sports car, and it is actu­ally a rebadged Sub­aru. With­out it, Scion sales would be down sharply.

But that is not the only sign of trou­ble. Scion’s cus­tomers are get­ting older. Toy­ota acknowl­edges that aware­ness of the brand among the teens and 20-somethings who rep­re­sent Scion’s tar­get mar­ket is not what the com­pany hoped it would be by now.

And, in mid June, Scion came in dead last in the annual J.D. Power and Asso­ciates Ini­tial Qual­ity Study.

“Ten years ago, Scion took off like a bat out of hell. They were the first peo­ple since Volk­swa­gen to suc­cess­fully pull off youth mar­ket­ing — and they did it by never say­ing the word ‘youth,’ ” said Jim Hall of 2953 Ana­lyt­ics LLP. “Their ini­tial demo­graph­ics were some­thing other automak­ers would have killed their moth­ers for.”

Toy­ota Vice Pres­i­dent Doug Murtha, who was tapped to lead the Scion brand last fall, says they still are.

“We’re still a good 15 years or more below the aver­age indus­try age,” Murtha told The Detroit News. “We’re still doing what we were brought here to do. At the same time, I would like to be doing that in greater volumes.”

Scion sales peaked at more than 173,000 vehi­cles in 2006. Last year, they did not even hit 74,000. And that was an almost 50 per­cent increase over 2011’s tally. Scion’s share of the mar­ket has also fallen, from an even 1 per­cent in 2006 to just 0.5 per­cent last year. And that fig­ure has slipped to just 0.4 per­cent this year.

Murtha also blames the age of the Scion lineup. With the excep­tion of the hot-selling FR-S and the admit­tedly polar­iz­ing iQ, most of its vehi­cles are des­per­ately in need of a refresh.

Those are com­ing, start­ing with a reboot of once-popular tC that is just now arriv­ing in show­rooms. Murtha believes that will help push Scion sales “closer to 80 (thou­sand) this year.”