It’s Been Real (Weird)

Scion leaves with an important, lasting legacy

March 16, 2016
Future Forward - Scion’s current vice president, Andrew Gilleland, reveals the C-HR Concept at the Los Angeles Auto Show in 2015. The U.S. production version of the Toyota C-HR will be unveiled later this year.
Scion began at the dawn of a new century, as a new effort to understand a brand new generation.
“We were looking at Generation Y. Back then, they were too young to buy cars,” says Jim Lentz, the brand’s first vice president and now Toyota North America CEO. “We knew that we needed to understand that generation really well or we were going to be challenged into the future. That’s why we developed Scion.”
So in June 2003, Scion launched with the delightfully boxy xB. Toaster comparisons aside, the car instantly became its first iconic vehicle, inspiring devoted followers just as quickly as it deflected haters.
Mono-spec vehicles gave customers a blank canvas. Customization gave them a chance to make their cars deeply personal. A one-price selling model assuaged the traditional fears of first-time car buyers. Spurred by enthusiastic supporters, Scion took chances, undeterred by the people who just didn’t understand.
And that was the point of the whole thing, right through to the end.
“Our customers are still saying polarizing is good,” says current Scion Vice President Andrew Gilleland. “They still want something that stands out a little bit.”
Remembering – Adorning the wall of Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz’s office in Plano, Texas is a Scion steering wheel, commemorative of his days as the brand’s first vice president. 

Mission Accomplished
Of course, it didn’t hurt that Scion sold more than 1 million units over its lifetime. But still, it was never about volume.
Scion served as Toyota’s laboratory for experimentation: From nontraditional marketing and bold new colors to one-price selling and speeding up transaction times.
“All of that was really important,” Lentz says. “And we have transferred a lot of those practices to the Toyota side.”
Excitement - Back in 2011, Jack Hollis (right) was Scion’s vice president, and he was all smiles while unveiling the breathtaking FR-S to reporters in Los Angeles. The FR-S will become the Toyota 86 when it debuts this fall.

A Fond Goodbye
Now, Scion is focused on closing out its inventory.
“It’s been a good run and now we’re working hard to provide the incentives and tools for sales associates to find new homes for our remaining Scion vehicles,” Gilleland says. “We are committed to creating a smooth transition to Toyota and we appreciate everyone’s effort and energy to help Scion go out with a bang.”   
And in the end, Scion did exactly what it was designed to do. 
“Scion’s done its job,” Lentz says. “If I fast forward a couple years from now, Toyotas are going to be fun to drive with great styling and the latest technology—all the things that are really important to young people. The sales process is evolving to become quicker and more transparent. All of that was driven by Scion.” 

By Dan Nied
Lconic - Then-Scion Vice President Mark Templin unveils the next-generation xB at the Chicago Auto Show in 2007.

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