Scion, the new Toyota car marque aimed at the ‘net generation’ or ‘Generation X’ – better known as the youth market – on Thursday unveiled at the 2003 Greater Los Angeles Auto Show the XA and xB, its first two production models. Both models will be launched initially in trend-setting California this June at ‘yoof-friendly’ retail prices under $US16,000.

The Scion xA

“Scion is about personalisation. It’s about providing buyers with a personalised dealership experience, a personalised ordering process and personalised vehicles,” said Scion vice president James Farley.

Based on a Japanese-market Toyota model, the xA is a subcompact five-door with 108 horsepower 1.5-litre engine and either five-speed manual transmission or four-speed automatic.

Unlike many small Toyotas, the xA is claimed to be visually appealing inside, with metal-tone instrument panel trim and matching ventilation controls on the centre console, stylised black-on-white gauges and textured treatments on the doors, dashboard and seats. Numerous storage bins including an illuminated translucent storage compartment in the centre cluster and hidden under-floor storage in the cargo area. The xA also has a standard cargo area cover.

Standard equipment includes power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors, air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, sport seats, 60/40-split folding rear seat and a first aid kit.

The box-shaped xB is a production version of the bbX concept that first debuted at last year’s New York Auto Show and which shares the same engine and transmissions as the xA.

The xB features large door openings, tall seat-height and ‘sprawling’ head and legroom.

The multi-purpose interior has an instrument panel covered in cross-grain vinyl for a modern look and metal-trimmed centre stack. The speedometer and odometer are centrally located for claimed easier readability and feature black-on-white gauges.

Front sport seats are standard and the second row seats fold flat in a 60/40 configuration and are removable, along with the spare tyre, for a completely flat load floor.

Standard features include power steering, windows, door locks and mirrors, stability control, air conditioning, ABS, a so-called ‘ground effects kit’ and remote keyless entry.

The Scion xB

Like the base Honda Element, each Scion vehicle will leave the factory without an audio head unit but, unlike the Honda, the audio system and wheel covers left off are already included into the vehicle’s price so buyers can select standard or extra-cost items at the dealership.

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) with three settings.

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 optional six-disc CD changer features audio display illumination that changes among 10 colors at the touch of a button and a subwoofer is also optional. 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 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.

Almost 80% of California Toyota dealers have committed to sell Scion. Most 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.

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 sales will expand in February 2004 to cover the south, southeast and east coast USA. A few months later, Scion will simultaneously complete the national rollout and launch a third vehicle line.