Scion recently closed its doors, making it one of the youngest modern car companies to go out of business. In its short run, the youth-oriented branch of the Toyota Motor Company established itself in the marketplace with vehicles aimed to stand out.
Scion’s discontinuation is important to the average car buyer because car companies rarely target a younger audience.
Its most popular model was the brand’s coupe, the tC. The coupe accounted for nearly half of Scion’s sales, although by December 2015, Scion had sold only 1.1 million tCs over the course of the company’s lifespan. Sales in 2009 were only half of what they were the year before, but when every other automaker turned to crossover SUVs, Scion decided to continue to build sedans and coupes, which never gave Scion the sales they needed to ensure their place in the market.
The subcompact crossover that the 13-year-old company had planned to build, the C-HR, will be badged as a Toyota when it goes to market, although its official production date is unknown.
Body kits and other personalization accessories were also two big selling points of Scion. It was a brand that wanted to get people interested in cars again. A brand like Scion leaving the mainstream market means that there is now a dearth of major car companies focused solely on instilling excitement.
The main cause of Scion’s demise was its lack of crossover models. The idea of being off the ground while having the utility of a hatchback without the dull styling of a minivan is appealing to drivers. Because of this, crossovers have become popular among millennials, due to their versatility as an all-in-one vehicle.
Similar brands that were not able to keep up with the crossover craze were Saturn, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Plymouth. These companies were brands that provided excitement and innovation, offsetting the relatively bland cars offered by other automakers. If a vehicle is not fuel-efficient it will likely suffer from slow sales unless it is a crossover.
Crossovers are the fastest growing segment of vehicles in the automotive industry. Almost every car company today has at least two or more crossovers. In a market choked with crossovers, brand recognition is a key to making a sale.
Honda, for example, is a brand that is known for reliable vehicles. “I like my CR-V, it’s a functional vehicle and it lives up to its name as the ‘Comfortable Runabout Vehicle,” freshman Maddie Ryan said.
General Motors’ Saturn, like Scion, was one brand that never really took off the way its parent company wanted it to. Saturns were innovative, unique vehicles burdened with poor build quality, and slow sales lead to the brand’s demise in 2010.
Freshman Austin Rafuls was going to buy a used Saturn Vue, one of Saturn’s two crossovers, but ultimately decided against it: “It was good looking, but it was basically falling apart on the inside, and it was only four years old.”
According to Carscoops.com, Crossovers and SUVs accounted for more than a third of new car sales in 2014. Minivan sales accounted for only 3.6 percent. The decrease in minivan sales killed Plymouth, a branch of Chrysler, in 2001. “My mom had to choose between a Plymouth Voyager, or a Chevrolet Suburban, she wouldn’t be caught dead in a minivan,” Andrew Wild, a sophomore, said.
Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles announced two weeks ago that they would cancel production of its “200” and “Dart” sedans due to lagging sales and would restructure its Belvidere factory to build more SUVs for Jeep. This is part of a bigger consolidation plan of FCA-produced vehicles.
The only Chrysler brand to experience year-over-year sales increases is Jeep, because the entire lineup consists of only crossovers and SUVs. Sophomore Brennan Critelli’s first car was a Jeep Liberty: “I love Jeeps now, they are a very reliable brand. My car is practically bullet-proof” he said.
Crossovers have established themselves as the hottest automotive trend in the industry, but some of the auto industry’s most revered marquees have been left behind because they did not conform to the current trends.