Scion xB
Scion xB. Click image to enlarge

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Scion

Ever heard of Scion? If you are a car nut, you probably have, and you may still be a little sour that the U.S. has had the Scion brand (a division of the Toyota Motor Corporation) available to purchase since 2003. Some have gone as far as to import Scion vehicles to Canada at hefty premiums above MSRP, just to be one of the few lucky owners and stand out from the sea of sameness.

If you haven’t heard of Scion, don’t worry: you soon will, as Toyota will be launching the brand in Canada come early 2010. (It’s pronounced SIGH-on, by the way.) But why did it take so long? Seven years to move a brand across the border? There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer why, but the good news for consumers is that it is coming.

Stephen Beatty, Managing Director of Toyota Canada Inc., said that Canada always lags the U.S., in terms of market potential and disposable income. Toyota has done its homework; Canada is now ready for the automotive brand that is targeted at the pop-culture crowd.

Scion’s buyer demographic is quite young. Unlike a vehicle like the Honda Element that was originally targeted at young buyers and got snapped up by baby boomers in droves, the Scion brand of vehicles really does hit the mark. According to Sandy Di Felice, Toyota Canada’s director of external affairs, 52 per cent of Scion customers are younger than 24 years old, while 72 per cent of buyers are under 35.

2009 Scion xD
2009 Scion xD
2009 Scion xD. Click image to enlarge

On that same note, Beatty commented that more than six million of Scion’s customers are less than 24 years old – proving that Toyota has struck a chord with the younger generation within the Scion family.

What does Scion bring to Canada that is different? According to Di Felice, “Scion brings excitement back to Toyota in the Canadian market. Back in October 2008, during a dealer conference, Toyota made the announcement of the Scion brand coming to Canada and dealers were beside themselves with excitement.”

Scion’s target demographic in Canada is now able to afford a new vehicle and wants something that stands out – something cool. The Scion brand will offer three models to start: the xB, the tC and the xD. Launching Scion means more products for Canadians and gives Toyota a more flexible business model.

When asked about any new models or new versions of current models, Beatty replied with, “Interesting you ask that.” But he would not comment further, and if I were a betting man, I would put my money on a new version of the tC to be launched when the brand arrives in 2010.

Believe it or not, Scion does not have any sales projections or targets; Toyota sees the brand as a building block for customers. The business model lends itself to targeting first-time buyers who may purchase a Scion now and as they grow out of it, move into the Toyota or Lexus family as their budget and needs change.

The big differentiator for the Scion brand is customization, music, fashion, and providing customers with a sense of being unique. From exhaust systems to spoilers and decals, the Scion catalog has it all to allow owners to customize their rides, all while maintaining their factory warranty.

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