Without knowing exactly which Toyota executive determined that Scion wasn’t a fit in Canada when Toyota debuted the brand in California – and then across the country – back in 2003, we don’t know exactly which direction the blame should be thrusted. Canada will receive Scion fairly well in 2010, now that Toyota realizes their past folly, but the question lingers: why wait seven years?
Sure, Canada is a big country that doesn’t buy very many cars. By a slow urban release, with dealers set up in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal, Toyota is copying its American strategy; a strategy where total volume wasn’t the key. At first it seemed as though Scion was to be very well protected. But then the xB bloated and the tC aged. So, Canada was and is a small market, but a close-at-hand market that would’ve helped when Scion sales began to slide; considering Canada’s collective desire to buy small in the first place.
In Toyota’s press release, stupid statements abound. “Young Canadians have been telling us they want SCION, and now their desire is within reach,” said Toyota’s director in Canada, Larry Hutchinson. Hmm, young Canadians wanted Scion in 2003 and, since every other Toyota model in America comes here (except the Land Cruiser, which we see only as a Lexus), it’s within reason to believe that Scion was ‘within reach’ back then.
“The time is right to bring Scion culture to Canada.” Larry Hutchinson again. He’s right, the time is right. In fact, the time is so far past right it couldn’t be… er, righter. Fuel prices have always been higher here. We’ve always liked our cars one size smaller. Canadians are open to hatchbacks in a way Americans have never been. Now that Americans are realizing this, the time is right for Canada?
“….Scion will be an important avenue through which we reach new drivers – those who represent the greatest future growth of the market – and give them the opportunity to experience, first-hand, Toyota’s reputation for quality, fuel efficiency, safety and value,” the release continued. One problem I see here is Scion’s original mission steered clear of heavy linkage with Toyota. That statement is from Scion’s Canadian site. Scion’s American site only lets on to its Toyota connections through legal fine print. While I realize that Scions appear in Toyota dealers and are thus, rather obviously interconnected with the establishment, making that point clearer to a demographic that doesn’t want to drive the vehicles of their parents is unnecessary and ill-advised.
It has been suggested that renewed bumper regulations will make life easier for Scion importing to Canada with costs that are significantly lower than earlier this decade. Problem? That point about Toyota doing it with every other vehicle they sell in the USA.
ScionNation.ca is a high-tech slow-loading site with a space where you can sign up for updates. Sensing bitterness? As a member of the target market for Scion in Canada, there’s plenty of bitterness. Not only at Toyota’s odd decision, but at the fact that Toyota is now searching for reasons for Scion survival. Allowing the vehicles to become so Toyota-like defeats Scion’s purpose. Sales were hurt before the financial crisis and continued to suffer through a period of high fuel prices. Now that Americans are discovering these may not be the hip, new, cool, sweet rides they once were, feed them to those north of the border? I come close to saying, “Thanks, but no thanks”, but that statement was already overly abused by somebody else from the north.
Canadian desire for Scion can be seen in the evidence of personal imports. An ’06 xB in New Brunswick with 55,000 miles is selling for $12,500 on Kijiji. Outrageous. Of the ten Scion results on AutoTrader.ca’s British Columbia section, eight are the old xB (none priced lower than a $16,900 MY2006), one is the tC, and the other is a new-style xB. Or check out the 24 Scions at Houle Toyota in Quebec.
Did Scion wait too long? Probably not. Should Scion have come sooner? Obviously.