Aftermarket tuners are unleashed on the tC
SEMA wrap up
LAS VEGAS, NV. The Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) has its biggest trade show in early November each year at the Last Vegas Convention Center and this year was no exception. The show featured over 2 million square feet of exhibitor booths, demos, featured vehicles, and press conferences. It's an industry-only show, and still over 80,000 people from around the world descend on Las Vegas to see what's the latest and greatest in the automotive aftermarket world. Most vehicle manufacturers and thousands of aftermarket parts manufacturers and distributors have booths as far as the eye can see, ready to show the world their latest service or newest product. As an industry-only show, it's not open to the general public, but with out partner sites we have enough news and photographs to bring the show to you.
The show this year ran from November 2nd through November 5th. ScionZone.Com attended all four days, in what can only be described as a test of endurance. Over two hundred Scion photos later, it's time for a wrap up of the year.
Last year there weren't any tC's at the show of course. By the time this year's show started, however, almost 20,000 tC's had been sold across the nation. The tuners have been right on the ball, and we saw quite a few tC's at the show this year. xB's of course were plentiful as well. The xA didn't make as much of an impact this year — even though it has been on sale for 10 months this year, it still sold only as many units as the tC sold in 4 months. Apart from the vehicles in Scion's official booth, only three xA's grace our photo gallery for SEMA 2004.
We listened in on part of a conversation with Vice President of Scion, Jim Farley. Jim clearly has a lot of excitement for Scion and it's customization potential: "The magic of Scion is uniqueness" he tells us. Scion has been lucky to have Toyota as its parent company. Toyota's strength in the automotive industry has let it take a chance on Scion, to create vehicles with unique silhouettes that defy traditional thought. While other manufacturers are struggling for their survival, Toyota has had the advantage of being able to have dozens of "grassroots" events per month to support the growing Scion community. The marketing is working, and surprisingly Mr. Farley told us that it was the tC, not the xB or xA, that has the youngest average age of ownership - in fact, the second youngest of any vehicle in the industry (with the Acura RSX having the youngest). It seems that today's young buyers really are excited about the tC's mix of quality and value.
Mr. Farley also reaffirmed Scion's commitment to customization and the availability of aftermarket products for the entire Scion line. He indicated that if things are going "right" for Scion, Scion's booth at SEMA will still be relatively small, but the number of Scion's in the tuners' booths at the show would grow every year.
Rumors have been floating around the Internet as to what Scion's next vehicle would look like, and Mr. Farley confirmed that Scion would "absolutely" be moving towards a full line of vehicles to complement its existing three. The trick of course is to maintain that magic, the uniqueness, that makes Scion special. Vehicle lines will be added, lines may even be subtracted (although Mr. Farley did indicate that Scion would be very careful before making any changes to the xB, the real "icon" of the Scion brand). Does this mean the xA, Scion's slowest selling model is going away? Mr. Farley wouldn't speculate, but we doubt it's going anywhere soon.
A Selection of Vehicles at SEMA
Tein of Japan brought a green and white xB to the show. It may not have been the world's most beautiful breadbox to look at, but it did a good job of showing off what Tein is known for, lowering springs and coil over shocks. Looking around the show in fact, it seems that a significant number of show vehicles do feature Tein equipment.
The vehicle that seemed to produce the strongest reaction amongst online forums visitors on the Internet was the Scion tC designed by Eric Haze. Eric has done quite a few significant design projects. The tC was painted pretty much in black and white, but still manages jump at you like some sort of Escher print. You know you are dealing with a designer with serious clout when the project vehicle has custom tires designed by Haze and manufactured by Yokohama. Reactions online have ranged from "Yuck!" to "its beautiful." You'll have to decide for yourself, but it's clear that it pushes some traditional concepts of what a custom paint job should look like.
Here is Scion's unofficial description of the vehicle:
Haze grew up at the beginning of the hip-hop era, on the subway line that runs from Broadway to Manhattan. The subway's influence can be seen in his constant experimentation and expression of the written word. Haze's projects include logos, album covers for artists such as the Beastie Boys and LL Cool J, limited-edition shoes for Nike, his line of streetwear and furniture.
The vehicle is definitely different. Isn't that what Scion is all about? It's the "magic" and "uniqueness" that Mr. Farley refers to. If you look at all of Scion's marketing literature, the emphasis is urban lifestyle and self expression. In that theme, this tC fits right in.
It seems like no matter what vehicle any manufacturer creates, eventually someone is going to turn it into a limousine. Hanging out in Vegas, Hummer limos cruise down the strip left and right. Out in front of the convention center, a Toyota Tundra limo was hard to miss, even in the sea of customized vehicles at SEMA. Sometimes a vehicle is made into a limo of sorts and you're not even sure why. But we definitely weren't prepared for the xB limo that we saw at Toyota's SEMA party in the Las Vegas Convention Center on Wednesday. A white xB was given a 48 inch stretch to make it a pretty unusual vehicle. The xB limo has in fact been done before (there was even a black xB limo at SEMA IAS 2003), and this one looked great. Seating for eight persons? No problem. Moon roof so you can stick your head out and wave and the pedestrians? No problem. Leather interior and complete Pioneer sound system? Of course. Some additional aftermarket parts, such as TRD sport wheels and Pirelli PZero tires, complete the package. The project was built by Five Axis, more information a 5axismodels.net.
Last but not least we bring you Kaminari USA's Scion tC. Andy's show car featured the Kaminari Aero Race package along with a prototype of a reverse cowl hood. The most interesting item on this vehicle, however, is the adjustable rear wing spoiler. The wing consists of two pieces, a fixed piece and a movable piece. One configuration is suitable for drag racing, and another configuration is more appropriate for street driving. Those of us who don't have the luxury of a dedicated drag racer can adjust the spoiler depending on our needs. Adjustment is with several allen screws, and close ups are available in the photo gallery. Visit kaminari.com for more details.
Additional photos of every one of these vehicles, plus several more that we found on the show floor, can be seen in the ScionZone.Com Photo Gallery. Take a look, and visit the SEMA 2004 forum to talk about these great vehicles!