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Is Toyota Going To Kill Off Scion Today? (Update: YES)

Illustration for article titled Is Toyota Going To Kill Off Scion Today? (Update: YES)

There’s a lot of talk swirling around right now that the Scion brand will be euthanized today. If this is true—and that remains a big if—it is just making official something that might as well have been real for a while: Scion is dead. Update: It’s official. Toyota will transition the Scion cars back to the Toyota brand instead.

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I have some emails and calls out to Toyota officials to get official confirmation, which we may get anyway at 9 a.m. today, but, if we’re totally honest, all this means is that someone at the mothership is finally calling it.

The as-yet-unconfirmed rumors showed up on the aptly-named-for-this CarBuzzard late yesterday, where they reported that:

At a top-secret meeting this afternoon, employees were told that the division, which started with the xA and xB in 2002 as 2003 models, wouldn’t see it’s 14thanniversary. Those who were laid off were told they would need to reapply for other jobs at Toyota, which also means moving to Texas. A formal announcement will be made tomorrow morning at 9 am.

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Motor Trend and AutoGuide are running with the report too. (It’s also worth nothing that CarBuzzard’s site is now down, perhaps from this glut of sudden traffic.) We remain skeptical until we hear officially.

The timing does seem a bit strange, considering two new cars meant to re-vitalize Scion’s lineup, the iM and the iA, are just now hitting dealerships, which would suggest Toyota isn’t really all that interested in giving those cars a chance to see what they can do for the marque.

The truth is Scion’s relevance has been gone since at least 2006, with the redesign of the original xB, and with it, any car that really made the brand stand out from Toyota.

Sure, there’s fans of the nicely-proportioned tC, and, of course, Scion got the great Subaru BRZ/Toyota GT86 as the FR-S, but beyond that, there hasn’t been much to really differentiate the brand.

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I even just recently addressed this and suggested a new lineup for Scion that I guarantee (no guarantees from this author will be honored – Ed.) would save the brand, so I’m personally going to assume all this is happening so Toyota can re-introduce the brand with my proposed lineup.

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It’ll be interesting to see if Scion’s cars will be re-badged (again) as Toyotas; will the FR-S become the GT86 in the US, too? Will the iM become an Auris? Will they keep Scion’s mixed-case-letter-names, but have Toyota badges? Who knows.

Either way, it looks like we’ll know pretty soon. Get ready to pour some 10W-40 out on your office carpet.

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UPDATE: Toyota has confirmed Scion “will transition to Toyota.” The brand will be phased out and existing models will be badged as Toyotas instead. More to come.

(props donated to BJ Killeen and her secret source for finding this out before anyone, by the way.)

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Contact the author at jason@jalopnik.com.

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DISCUSSION

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The Tc never had the handling prowess of the Celica. It became a ‘lifestyle’ car for guys who spend more money on sunglasses than rent. Even if Toyota didn’t send it from the factory as a handling or horsepower monster, make it infinitely tunable. That’s how Civic got its cred. It wasn’t what it WAS, it was what it could BECOME.

The XB was funky but everything after the original were boring.

The FR-S is missing several dozen horsepower at least. That was a good introductory model but it’s time for a turbo. Relevance is vanishing into the ether.

I’m not being factious here, of the other Scion products, I can’t really tell you one xThis versus xThat versus the xOtherThing.

When a huge company thinks they are going to ‘start making products for the younger crowd’ it just needs to stop. Almost no one can pull this off. I think of Mary Barra (whom I respect, don’t get me wrong) saying GM will be the ‘new disruptors.’ Oh, just stop while you have your dignity. Do what you do well.