Toyota wants to draw the Gen-Y-ers into its showrooms, a group they are calling "an emerging culture of new car buyers." According to Brian Bolain, Sales Promotion Manager, their target audience is ages 9-23. At first glance one shakes their head and wonders how old you have to be to drive in Japan. But the parent company here is Toyota, and they are known for long-term strategy, and that includes kids that aren't able to buy a car till 2010. Scion expects twenty-five percent of the Gen-Y market and they expect to grow up with that market.
The Scion xA and xB are the new models wearing the new badge and can already be found in about 80 percent of the Toyota showrooms in California. In February 2004, Scion will expand to the East and South Coast, and complete its national rollout in the spring of 2004.
Scions design and concept were developed simultaneously by a couple of young designers. The whole project was approved with a seven minute video that contained no words. The xA (a mini sportwagon or crossover) is based on the Japanese market model, the ist, while the xB (a square-ish box thing that looks like a Honda Element-ish)is based on the xB. The xB has had twice as many sales in Japan as predicted.
According to Attik, the advertising group for Scion, Gen-Y-ers are information rich, time poor and tech-savvy. They want a dealer involved in their transaction, but they don't want the same type of relationship that their parents have had to endure. So, let's stop writing like old fogies and figure out if they're going to like these cars. But before I try to get hip let me tell you, I hate these names - xA, xB - I can't remember which is which, so the Gen-Y-ers will probably buy them just because of that. You know how it goes, anything your parents don't like, your kids will love.
Both cars come in mono-body style and is powered by a 1.5-liter DOHC four-cylinder engine. Buyers can choose between two transmissions, a five-speed manual and a four-speed automatic. One would think that with only 108 horsepower the engine would be a disappointment, but the car only weighs about 2,400 pounds. The quick ratio power rack-and-pinion (17.5:1) allows the car to go into the corner with control and accuracy. An added benefit is the 31 city/37 highway mpg you get.
Both cars come standard with power windows, mirrors and door locks; tilt steering wheel; tachometer and trip meter centered in the middle of the car to give it a European, mini-cooperish feel; 60/40-split folding and removable rear seat; remote keyless entry; and a six-speaker, AM/FM/CD Pioneer sound system with MP3 capacity, wired to accept an XM satellite radio receiver.
And it comes well equipped with active safety features: antilock brakes (ABS) with Brake Assist; Electronic Brake-force Distribution; Vehicle Stability Control; and traction control. My 6'4" colleague still had enough headroom left over to put an airbag over his head.
In addition to the host of standard equipment, consumers can choose from a wide array of approximately 40 accessories with which to customize their vehicle. These range from appearance enhancements, such as alloy wheels, carbon fiber appliques, sport pedals, shift knobs and interior lighting kits to underhood items, such as cold air intake or a strut tower brace. These Scion accessories are covered under the standard Scion limited warranty of three years or 36,000 miles, whichever comes first.
Also, Toyota Racing Development (TRD) has created a line-up of Scion performance parts that includes 18- or 19-inch wheels and tires, a lowering kit and sport exhaust. For xB, TRD also offers a performance clutch and quick shift kit.
"We've worked with SEMA (Specialty Equipment Manufacturers' Association) to transfer technology from Toyota's development side to aftermarket manufacturers who want to develop products for Scion vehicles," said Brian Bolain, national sales promotions manager, Scion. "This is the first time that Toyota has shared proprietary technical information outside the organization, and we look forward to great results."
Participation in the aftermarket forum is essential for awareness of the products and their personalization potential. Scion will continue to appear in tuner events such as Hot Import Nights and Import Revolution. Scion will debut newly modified vehicles at this year's International Auto Salon in Los Angeles in April and again at the SEMA show in Las Vegas in November.
The Scion "Pure Price" solution is a way to meet the buyers' desire for consistency and transparency. It means that the dealership's advertised price equals the actual transaction price. This principle should apply to accessories, finance and insurance.
This "Pure Price" is supported by base Manufacturer Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) of $12,480 for xA and $13,680 for xB. The xA and xB, equipped with automatic transmissions, are $13,280 and $14,480, respectively. These prices acknowledge our target's budget while giving them an unprecedented level of value.
If Scion is expecting to reach the Gen-Y audience they might be slightly disappointed. The Honda Element is selling to the 40s crowd and the reason is obvious and could happen with Scion. Scions are great cars, offering great quality with more than 10,000 combinations at aggressive prices. Who doesn't like them apples?