Scion, the new car marque from Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc, today unveiled at the 2003 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show the xA and xB, the first two production models from the newest brand in the automotive industry. Both models will launch initially in California this June and will carry Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Prices (MSRP) below $16,000.
"Scion is about personalization. It's about providing buyers with a personalized dealership experience, a personalized ordering process and personalized vehicles," said James Farley, vice president, Scion.
The xA makes its North American debut as a muscular subcompact five-door that features an athletic stance, sculpted wheel arches and tightly connected visual cues that flow dramatically from front to rear. The xA is powered by a 108 horsepower 1.5-liter engine. Buyers can select either a standard five-speed manual transmission or an available four-speed automatic.
The xA has a wide front grille and strong rocker panel extensions that enhance the horizontal, muscular stance and visually draw the vehicle closer to the ground. Buyers can choose from a palette of six exterior colors.
Inside, the xA is visually appealing, with metal-tone instrument panel trim and matching ventilation controls on the center console, stylized black-on-white gauges and textured treatments on the doors, dashboard and seats. The xA's interior is as functional as it is eye-catching. There are numerous storage bins including an illuminated translucent storage compartment in the center cluster and hidden under-floor storage in the cargo area, which gives owners maximum flexibility for carrying large and small items. The xA also features a standard cargo area cover to ensure that items are stored safely out of sight.
The Scion xA is packed with standard features, which include:
Power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors,
Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS),
60/40-split folding rear seat,
And a first aid kit.
The Scion xB is a production version of the bbX concept that first debuted at last year's New York Auto Show. This subcompact is an aggressively styled vehicle that demands to be noticed. The xB weighs in at just over 2,400 pounds and shares the same engine and transmission combinations as the xA.
On the outside, the xB hunkers down low over its wheels and rises tall and wide with flat panels and 90-degree angles. This achieves maximum space from minimal exterior dimensions. It sits on P185/60R15 tires and 15-inch wheels with a slightly lowered suspension for a firm feel with confident handling. The xB features large door openings, tall seat-height and sprawling head and legroom.
The interior is multi-purpose and uniquely combines class-leading materials and finish, with surprising versatility. The instrument panel is covered in a fresh, cross-grain vinyl that provides a modern look, while the center stack housing audio and ventilation controls feature metal tone trim. The speedometer and odometer are more centrally located for easier readability and feature black-on-white gauges, while auxiliary controls feature amber illumination.
Driver and passenger enjoy front sport seats. The second row seats fold flat in a 60/40 configuration and are removable, along with the spare tire, providing a completely flat floor for hauling cargo. Ample storage compartments throughout the cabin add even more roominess.
Standard features for xB are plentiful and include:
Power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors,
Vehicle Stability Control,
A ground effects kit,
And keyless entry.
Scion Standard Features and Available Accessories
Each Scion vehicle will leave the factory without an audio head unit or wheel covers, although these items are already included into the vehicle's base MSRP. Buyers can choose from three wheel cover designs, or upgrade to alloy wheels at only an incremental amount. Buyers can also choose the standard AM/FM/CD audio unit, or upgrade to a unit with a six-disc changer and pay the difference.
Since music plays a key role with Scion's target audience, Pioneer was chosen to provide both vehicles with a standard six-speaker AM/FM/CD audio system featuring Scion Sound Processing (SSP). This digital sound processing feature lets Scion drivers choose between three settings - SSP Neutral setting keeps the music in the background, SSP Hear enhances the sounds with crisp highs and lows, and SSP Feel has a sound curve that lets passengers not only hear the music, but feel it.
The standard and optional audio equipment will satisfy the most techno-savvy consumers. The standard CD player will read MP3 files and the audio head unit is satellite-radio-ready, for those who want to add this feature. The available six-disc CD changer features audio display illumination that changes among 10 colors at the touch of a button. The most demanding audiophiles may even choose an available subwoofer. Both vehicles were developed with an increase in sound absorption materials, ensuring a quiet cabin for listening to music or conversing with passengers.
In addition to wheel covers and audio, Scion has developed approximately 40 accessories for each vehicle that will be covered under the standard Scion limited warranty when dealer- or port-installed. These items range from fog lamps, rear spoilers and interior mats to two-tone leather-wrapped steering wheels, strut tie bar braces and auxiliary interior lighting kits, accommodating a broad spectrum of customer tastes.
The Scion dealership environment caters to younger buyers who want the resources to answer their questions, but who also need the freedom to explore at their own pace. The Scion showroom accomplishes this through three key areas - a product area, a discovery zone and consultation space - each with a specific focus:
The product area includes demonstrations of the vehicle's features on plasma screens, accessory display cases, freestanding paint and fabric selector stands and, in many showrooms, a Scion vehicle, so consumers can experience Scion's versatility first-hand.
The discovery zone is supported by self-service Internet kiosks and printer stands, where users can log onto the Scion Web site, custom-equip the car of their choice and then save or print out the data for reference. This streamlines the purchase process and facilitates a more personalized shopping experience.
Lastly, the consultation space involves a certified sales staff for assistance and guidance available for shoppers who have any additional questions.
Almost 80 percent of California Toyota dealers have committed to sell Scion. Most dealers will dedicate space for Scion in their existing facilities, while some will add floor space to their stores, and others will create stand-alone showrooms.
"By delivering a process that suits their desires for a personalized approach, we believe we will connect with consumers on a practical and emotional level," continued Farley. "This connection creates opportunities for early relationship building and we intend to see these relationships translate into lifetime advocacy."
Each Scion dealer will undergo extensive training beginning later this month to learn more about this unique target audience and how to provide a sales process tailored to their needs. For example, in addition to the normal two-day off-site training, all dealership staff will participate in six days of on-site training. This includes anyone at the store who will make contact with a Scion customer.
"Scion will offer new products, a new culture and a new approach to selling that is fresh and custom tailored to meet the needs of an emerging generation of new car buyers," said Farley.
The Scion xA and xB will go on sale this June exclusively in California. In February 2004, the market will expand to cover the south, southeast and east coast. A few short months later, Scion will simultaneously complete the national rollout and launch the third Scion vehicle. This staggered rollout allows sufficient time for ramp up of production and further refinement of Scion's new distribution and sales processes.