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Toyota has had a long and eventful history, and while many Toyota models have been successes, many have been failures. In fact, Toyota used to have a sister company called Scion, but Scion ultimately ended up failing as it was discontinued after a decade. However, while Scion is dead, many cars in its lineup were given a Toyota badge instead.

Scion was a brand for the youth

A car dealership sign with the Toyota and Scion logos located in Los Angeles, California
A car dealership sign with the Toyota and Scion logos | Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

About 20 years ago, Toyota had a problem. The younger generation at the time wasn’t buying Toyotas. So, Toyota created Scion. In many ways, Scion, as a brand, was targeted at the youth of the time. The cars were marketed as being cooler than a Toyota, but it wasn’t just marketing. Scions were also very customizable, and this allowed owners to personalize their cars

However, at the same time, Scion was also a testbed for Toyota. Scion was the company that Toyota used to test new strategies and products that were too experimental for the Toyota brand. The lessons that Toyota learned from using Scion as a testbed were arguably invaluable, as Toyota still uses many of those lessons today. Of course, that didn’t save Scion from being discontinued. That’s exactly what happened in 2016, but Scion’s story didn’t end there. 

The dead Scions that just got a Toyota badge

Since Toyota owned Scion, it wasn’t too difficult for Toyota to merge the two. In fact, several Scions, according to Automotive News, were rebranded as Toyota models. A few have been rebranded with new names, while others still carry on the Scion legacy. For example, the Scion iM became the Corolla iM for the 2017 and 2018 model years. However, after those model years, the Corolla was simply the Corolla.

Similarly, the Scion iA became the Yaris iA, just for the 2016 and 2017 model years. That said, one car that has continued to live on is the Scion FR-S. It was renamed the Toyota 86, which was the name that Toyota used for the car in other markets before Scion died. Another Scion that survived was never actually sold as a Scion. 

As Automotive News reports, the Toyota C-HR was actually supposed to be part of the Scion lineup. However, Scion died before the C-HR actually hit dealerships. As such, Toyota rebranded the C-HR as a Toyota, and the rest was history. Regardless, since it was designed with a Scion in mind, the C-HR is one of the few Scion models that survived the death of the brand.

Why did Scion die?

The short answer to the question of why Scion was discontinued is simple. Scion didn’t sell very well. While it’s a bit more complicated than that, it ultimately is a game of numbers at the end of the day. Scion did sell well early on but didn’t continue to sell well after a few years. Like many brands, Scion had a lot of hype, and in 2006, just three years after Scion debuted, Scion’s sales peaked at about 173,000 units.

Then, the Great Recession happened, and few automakers were spared. Scion’s sales collapsed from that peak, and it simply never recovered. From 2010 to 2015, Scion averaged about 50,000 units a year, with little sign of improvement. To top it all off, Scion’s mission statement was pointless.

Toyota created Scion to sell cars to the youth. However, less than 20 years after Scion’s birth, young drivers wanted to buy Toyotas instead. So, with sales falling and Toyota becoming more popular, Scion died. In any case, folks can always honor Scion’s legacy by buying one of its few cars that have been given a Toyota badge.