Head over to your favorite local Toyota dealer and car hop between the Toyotas and the Scions. Interior wise you'll find many of the same materials, touch points and switchgear. What you won't find however are matching head units.
Since Scions inception they've always gone their own way with regards to in car entertainment, preferring to bypass Toyota's proprietary systems for aftermarket units from Pioneer. 10 years ago Scion was one of the first companies to offer full iPod control, USB integration and Bluetooth streaming to economy car shoppers.
However the problem Scion is now facing is a lack of integration. What was once a large strength for them has now turned into a strategic weakness. Milennials are looking for slick interfaces and smart integration within their interiors. Scion isn't able to offer steering wheel controls, voice controls or multi-screen information screens because they essentially don't control product cadence in that aspect.
Scion VP Doug Murtha admitted such at the NY Auto Show. "We have a different head-unit development strategy, where on the Toyota side, unfortunately, our lead time is not all that different than our vehicle lead time, so we opted out of that cycle, and are taking more of an aftermarket method that not only lets us cascade a single new technology through the lineup within a few months but also come to market much more quickly with some things.”
Scion is finding that their traditional approach has aged with the consumers they USED to service. Their new demographics are seeking a customisable interior instead of flashy exterior fripperies. “What we find is that they still want something that allows them to not be like everyone else,” said Murtha. “But they’re more interested in doing things to their interior environment than they are in making some kind of exterior expression—and we’ve had to adjust.”
While Murtha says Scion will need to adjust one thing they won't be abandoning is their partnership with Pioneer. “I think we need to work with Pioneer and see what they can push to us on our scale, in short order,” he said. “But I acknowledge it’s clearly an opportunity for us and everybody else out there, an opportunity for customization.”
The paradox for Scion is they've not seen significant evidence that their target market is even willing to shell out the extra funds for a cohesive 'experience'...