The next big thing from Scion?

March 19, 2008

It’s safe to say the 2009 Scion Hako Coupe Concept isn’t for everyone. And that’s just fine with the folks who designed the metallic orange show car.

“Polarizing style fits in very well with our line-up,” explained Jack Hollis, general manager of Toyota’s youth brand. Products like the boxy xB would suggest that the strategy has worked quite well, at least so far.

The Hako takes the squared-off look of the xB several steps beyond, adding flared wheel wells –surrounding large, 18-inch wheels and tires -- and what Hollis described as a “slammed roadster look. The board flat roof is striped with bar code-like black strips. There are minimalist LED head and taillamps, and undersized, racer-style side mirrors. Influenced by Scion’s xD, the integrated rear bumper contains the various lights.

Inside, Hako has the feel of a futuristic lounge, and one very much geared to the videogame generation. Indeed, there’s a video arcade-style display built into the steering wheel itself, along with a trackball-style controller that can be used to operate the array of onboard electronic systems.

Two separate video monitors are mounted in the dashboard, in front of the passenger, each displaying different multimedia sources. There are also a pair of small, door-mounted monitors that show the images caught by fisheye video cameras built into each of the front fenders.

“They can capture pictures you take so you can show your friends where you’ve been,” explained Hollis.

The front seats are made of an easy-to-clean urethane, the driver’s in orange, the passenger’s in black.

As far out as the Hako might seem, “It is one of the concepts under consideration for Scion,” noted Hollis.

The Toyota “brand-within-a-brand” has always tried to push the envelope in its quest to bring young opinion leaders into Toyota showrooms. It has, most observers seem to agree, worked quite well. The average Scion buyer is barely 30, and customers tend to stay with Scion or Toyota when they trade in. Last year, the marque moved 130,000 vehicles, and expects to do the same in 2008.

The challenge, acknowledged Hollis, is to keep the momentum going, especially if Scion sticks with its original strategy of marketing no more than three products at any one time.

“We will be larger than we are today,” the executive declared, during a New York Auto Show preview, but that will force the brand to “consider the possibility of adding a fourth, fifth and even a sixth model” to its line-up.

And Hako is one possible addition that shouldn’t be dismissed, Hollis stressed, during a discussion with TheCarConnection.com. He noted that there will be no additional models during 2008. Beyond that? Stay tuned, he suggested.

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