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Scion bids for youth appeal

Toyota has launched a new brand in the US aimed at what it calls “the net-generation”. Called Scion, its products will be aimed at buyers who are only just reaching driving age and entering the car market.

Toyota Motor Sales USA executive vice president and COO Jim Press says Scion's target customers are an important emerging consumer group that will total over 60 million potential customers by 2010.

“With Scion, Toyota is taking a major pro-active step to reach out and connect with them,” he says. Scion products will be sold out of existing Toyota showrooms but within dedicated sales environment and using dedicated sales staff. To keep overheads down, service facilities will be shared with Toyota vehicles, and dealers will draw stock from a shared inventory pool.

Two Scion concept vehicles, the bbX and the ccX, were unveiled at last week's New York International Auto Show. The bbX concept is based on the Japanese market Toyota bB, but will be significantly re-engineered for the US market - as the bB was never envisioned for sale beyond the home market, it is manufactured using short life cycle tooling.

The ccX is described as a crossover coupe and features sporty styling, two large sunroofs, lots of load space, and a washable interior.

Production versions of both will go on sale in June 2003. To simplify manufacturing and inventory, just one version of each model will be offered, with air conditioning, a six speaker sound system and power windows as standard despite prices under $18,000. A third Scion product will be available mid-2004.

Toyota plans a progressive roll-out of the Scion brand, with sales limited to California for the first eight months. But all three Scion products will be available across the US within 12 months of launch, with sales expected to reach 100,000 units a year.

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