autofieldblog 2015 Concept Vehicle of the Year

“. . .some might call Scion unique and others might call us weird.

“. . .some might call Scion unique and others might call us weird. But we think being weird with a purpose is actually cool. In fact, it means more than just being different.”

While it might seem that the only one who might make a statement like that would be (a) someone with tats and piercings and who works in the Scion advertising department or (b) someone who isn’t any of those things, but who is talking one night over a craft beer.

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Even the pictures are weird

Yet that was Andrew Gilleland, vice president, Scion, who doesn’t appear to have any of the characteristics of (a) and who was on stage at the 2015 Los Angeles Auto Show, so that is far, far away from (b).

In his remarks in LA Gilleland noted that Scion has been on the scene for a dozen years and that in this period of time, it has sold about a million vehicles. That would be about 83,000 cars a year. It is probably a good thing that Scion stores have Camrys nearby, as Camry has been the best-selling car in the U.S. for 13 years running (through 2014), and 83,000 is about a quarter of what it did last year (~430,000).

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[See previous caption]

It is a good thing for Scion that Gilleland is emphasizing weirdness. Gilleland pointed out that over the years 75% of buyers were new to the Toyota franchise, which is a good thing in terms of attracting people, and that half of that number were customers under 35 years old. Which might sound good until you realize that that means that over half were over 35 years old, and although 60 might be the new 40, only Peter Pan can make the argument that >35 qualifies someone for “youth,” as in “youth brand.”

Which is a long way to get to the autofieldblog Concept Vehicle of the Year, the Scion C-HR, because the damn thing is simply stylishly weird. In a good way.

The nomenclature stands for “Compact High Ride.” Which essentially means that the C-HR is a CUV.

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Yes, that’s it.

But not like any seen rolling around in anything outside some anime.

The C-HR is origami in sheet metal. Folded, creased formed. While concepts often are formed in ways that production tooling could never bring to reality as they are hand-crafted in shops where people take hours and hours and hours to form them, not seconds to stamp them, it would not be in the least bit surprising if the production C-HR comes out looking pretty much like the concept C-HR because for all of that “Toyotas look like appliance” rhetoric over the years, know that when it comes to making things, Toyota manufacturing engineers are really, really good.

When introducing the C-HR Gilleland noted that it is based on the Toyota New Global Architecture, the same platform that can be found underpinning the 2016 Prius. Consequently, although a concept, this is clearly a production-intent vehicle.

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Well, maybe the wheels won’t make production. . .

Scion is gaining some momentum in the market with the iA, which is clearly weird, and the iM, which is a different take on a five-door than the C-HR. The iM is more rational and the C-HR is more. . .outré.

And that is exactly the point, exactly what Scion needs.