Scions Appeal Aimed At Gen Y

Several automotive brands have tried to lure the hip and the young. But so far, no other brand has done it better than Scion. The gusto of capturing the heart of the generation Y is just one of the strategies of Scion, a division of Toyota Motor Corp.

Scion, which was created in 2003, flaunts the youngest customer base that a brand could seize in the United States market. The Japanese brand has 31 as the average age of customers. With the growing competition all aimed at the youth drivers, Scion still believes that it can do better.

“They’re a smart, diverse population and they know what they want,” Jim Press, president of Toyota Motor North America, said of that generation. “It’s this group more than any other that’s demanded great change in the auto industry. They’ve caused us to rethink how our motor vehicles are designed, sold, financed, delivered and serviced.”

Last Thursday, at the Chicago Auto Show, Scion unleashed two new vehicles that have been meticulously engineered to appeal to those Internet-dwelling, trend-savvy youth consumers the next generation xB and the all-new xD five-door.

The Scion xB, a box-shaped, 5-door compact hatchback, is made bigger than its ancestor. It is designed to appear more rounded. The vehicle, powered by a 2.4L engine, is inspired by the Scion t2B concepts style, which was unveiled at the New York Auto Show last year. The Scion xD, the sporty hatchback built off the Toyota Yaris platform, is the replacement of the xA. The vehicle was introduced at an invitation-only no-camera event early last year in Miami. The xD, powered by new 2ZR-FE 1.8 liter engine, will come standard with 16″ wheels and tires boosted by EBC Greenstuff, CD player by Pioneer with mp3 capability, power locks, windows, and other upbeat features. It will appear on showrooms in spring this year.

Scion reflects Toyotas target market expansion to cover this generation of 63 million. Every year, four million of the said generation reaches the driving age. “The arrival of these two new products has inspired us to raise to a new level our ability to connect with young buyers,” Scion Vice President Mark Templin said. When Scion unrolled the new members of its clan, the introduction was also coupled with Scion City launch in Second Life, an online world with 3.4 million virtual residents.

The next generation Scion xB will replace the boxy image of wagon. It may still appear boxy but the utility vehicle is given softer edges to enhance styling. The engineers of the automaker have extended the wheel base by four inches, the length by a foot and the width by three inches.

“Toyota probably better than anybody has the ability to anticipate where the market is headed,” said brand analyst Erich Merkle of IRN Inc. in Grand Rapids. Scion’s many custom options will make it a hit among this youthful crowd, he added.

Toyota has never looked to the brand for mass sales, but rather to reach the generation Y customers. But the swift Scion lineup has to be aimed at the heart of the generation Y, about 65 million people age 8 to 22 who, as Automotive News predicts, will be buying four million cars per year by 2010. And many of them will be searching for more than insipid transportation.

Scion Vice President Jim Farley said, “Once, quality and reliability were enough to sell a vehicle. Now you need emotion, individuality. Buyers often assume you have good quality. Now you have to add emotion.”