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Toyota refiles 86 trademark in the U.S. Is the FR-S badge history?

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Over 4 months before it was actually announced, we presciently wondered if Scion might join Saab, Mercury, Plymouth, Pontiac, Oldsmobile and so many others in the pantheon of defunct automotive brands. And, as we pondered the question of how existing Scion models would transition to the Toyota brand, we noted that U.S. trademarks for Auris (presumably for the Scion iM) and 86 (for the FR-S) were both abandoned and dead since June 2011. We have just learned, however, that not only has Toyota filed for a new 86 trademark in the United States on 11 February 2016 (Serial Number 86905100), but it was joined by a separate filing under Serial Number 86905301 for the circular 86 logo you see below left.

ImageAgentProxyThe official news release announcing the Scion brand’s demise notes that beginning in August 2016, MY17 Scion vehicles will be rebadged as Toyotas. The FR-S sports car, iA sedan and iM 5-door hatchback will become part of the Toyota family.

As journalists sought clarification from Scion Communications Manager Nancy Hubbell, The Truth About Cars’ Mark Stevenson noted that

“For the model year ’17, Toyota will continue with the single price strategy that Scion set forth, and we will re-evaluate that for model year ’18,” stated Hubbell in a phone interview… Pricing of those vehicles will “follow the Toyota model,” meaning no-haggle pricing will die with the brand.

More interesting, Scion-gone-Toyota models may get trims — or grades, in Toyota speak — in 2018, as the mothership re-evaluates the monospec policy. And those model names may change in 2018, as well, though there is currently no plans to do so.

Ben Hsu of Japanese Nostalgic Car asked specifically about an FR-S-to-86 rename, and was told that

The US won’t be getting the Toyota GT86 like they do in Europe, or the Toyota 86 like they do in Japan. (Hsu) asked (Ms.) Hubbell whether the FR-S name would be moved to Toyota. Her answer: “Yes, the FR-S will retain its name as a Toyota.”

Yet, Motor Trend‘s Stefan Ogbac states that

…the GT86 name is being evaluated over the next six to eight months. Bob Carter, senior vice president of automotive operations at Toyota, said the FR-S name is being kept for now because there is a lot of equity associated with it. However, it may be possible that the FR-S will get a name change to GT86 for its mid-cycle refresh or next generation.

We should note, however, that Toyota has never filed a GT86 trademark in the United States. In other words, don’t expect a GT86 badge that falls in line with European or higher-end New Zealand versions, let alone the esoteric, concept car-like FT-86 badge used in Jamaica and Nicaragua. It seems that it may eventually be just plain 86 in the U.S., as in the rest of the world.

toyota-gt86-spy-2015-0001The mid-cycle refresh would be a logical time to change the badging from FR-S to 86, if that’s Toyota USA’s eventual inclination. And, by most accounts, this refresh is scheduled for late summer/early fall 2016, for the 2017 model year, coinciding with the overall Scion-to-Toyota transition. Already there are numerous photos of camoed test mules for this seemingly mild facelift, such as the one shown at right.

Even as the official line currently points towards a Toyota FR-S badge for the 2017 model year, we hear rumblings from company insiders that it’s not a decision set in stone. With this new 86 trademark filing, it seems that Toyota is hedging its bets and planning for all possibilities.

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