Toyota has shown off the design of its new Scion brand showroom at the 2002 Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) convention in Las Vegas.

Toyota also announced additional aftermarket parts suppliers and provided more detail about how the vehicles can be personalised. Six are on display at the SEMA show, each customised by different companies to show the modification possibilities that are said to be the core of the ‘Scion culture’.

Toyota claims Scion “will benchmark a new culture and approach for vehicle purchases and ownership” when it goes on sale in California in June 2003.

Two key components are to offer buyers every opportunity for personalisation and to create an inviting and interactive dealership.

The new dealership ‘environment’ is claimed to give customers the freedom to browse, investigate and research Scion at their own pace. In most cases, the Scion showroom will be inside existing Toyota dealerships with the ‘setting’ “low-key and buyer-friendly”.

Each showroom will be divided into three main areas: a ‘product area’, a ‘discovery zone’ and ‘consultation space’. The product area will feature an information wall with a display case of various optional accessories and a colour and trim stand. Many showrooms will also display a Scion vehicle with various accessories already installed. The discovery zone is supported by self-service internet kiosks. Lastly, salespeople will be available to offer assistance and guidance in the consultation space.

Toyota claims these “highly interactive surroundings” will deliver “a customer-controlled atmosphere”.

So far, 80% of California dealers have committed to selling Scion vehicles and several plan to have stand-alone showrooms.

Scion has established key partnerships with brands like Pioneer, the audio supplier that will equip the line. All vehicles will have a standard six-speaker, AM/FM CD audio system with sound processor.

A wide range of aftermarket manufacturers will supply a large and colourful range of cosmetic, functional and performance enhancement accessories.

Scion vehicles will come from the factory in what Toyota calls “essentially mono spec”, with most comfort and convenience features as standard equipment. Air conditioning, power windows, door locks and mirrors and sport seats will all be included.

The buyer will select the model and colour desired and then look at the customising opportunities.

A variety of personalisation opportunities are available for all customers, ranging from options for those who want to add just a little bit of flair to their vehicles, to accessories for those who want to maximize customisation with both performance and style enhancements.

Suppliers will include OBX, which supplies parts for modifiers looking to boost their vehicle's appearance and/or performance while Area 51 is a tuner.

OBX has developed sport pedals, optional shift knobs in carbon fibre and aluminum and is considering other distinctive accessories.

Area 51 is developing a supercharger for the bbX to maximise the engine's performance and improve engine output. They also will manufacture a strut tie-bar brace that attaches to each front strut tower in the engine compartment. This will enhance handling by stiffening the sub frame and preventing distortion of the lower suspension, while providing a sportier look under the bonnet.

Ground Zero, Stewart Co., Motegi Performance Racing Wheel, Paisley Racing, Pioneer and Primedia are also using Scion to show off accessories.

Modifications to the vehicles displayed at SEMA range from aero kits, body graphics and custom seating to 18-inch alloy wheels, cat-back exhaust systems and audio/visual enhancements.

Initially, two Scion vehicles will be available: one based on the bbX concept and the second vehicle to be unveiled at January's Los Angeles Auto Show.

In February 2004, sales will expand into the northeast, mid-Atlantic states, southeast and the southwest.

Four months later, in June 2004, Scion will complete its national rollout and launch a third model.

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