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2007 Chicago Auto Show: Scion's 2008 xB and xD

Introduction Simulcast on SecondLife.com
While Scion Vice President, Mark Templin, was presenting the new xB and xD to media at the Chicago auto show, his alter-personality at secondlife.com (called an avatar) was doing the same. SecondLife.com is an online world that started in 2003 and is now “inhabited” by 3.4 million people globally, and this is the first vehicle introduction simulcast in this online world. Secondlife.com is another way to communicate with people who need transportation once they return to the physical world and automotive manufacturers are taking notice. This is especially relevant for Scion, a brand with an average buyer at only 30 years old and an owner base that is probably the most plugged in of all.

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2008 xB and xD Take Over from First xB and xA
Scion was first envisioned as a line of cars with single lifecycles, though a box is expected to be a staple of the brand. Following this plan, the second-generation xB and the new xD were introduced at the 2007 Chicago auto show. xD takes the showroom space previously occupied by the xA. The xB arrives in dealers in April 2007 and the xD in August.
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Fit For America… Honda Fit, That Is

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New Entry Car Joins Honda’s Lineup
If you’re in the market for an economy car, this might be one of the better model years to buy. Not only does the Honda Fit arrive in dealers in April 2006, Toyota’s Yaris and Chevrolet’s updated Aveo will arrive shortly afterward. And don’t forget the Nissan Versa coming later in the year. Honda chose the North American International Auto Show to unveil their new Fit while Toyota launched the Yaris at the Los Angeles Auto Show , with Vehicle Voice and AutoPacific correspondents on hand. Elsewhere in the segment, Kia’s Rio and Hyundai’s Accent were all-new for the 2006MY. The oldest product in the segment is actually the Scion xA, and that model launched nationally for the 2004MY.
What are the keys to this segment? As much interior room as can be carved out of such a small footprint, some type of sporty-look model to offer the ability to not look as though you’re driving the least expensive car in the lineup, and the ability for buyers to customize or accessorize their car. Toyota is writing the book on this with Scion, and Honda is learning a few tricks.
Final pricing has not been determined for the Honda Fit, but a $12,000 price point is reasonable. Though pricing for either Fit or the new Toyota Yaris has not been announced, the Fit offers more standard features and is likely to carry a slightly higher base price as a result. Honda does have concerns about the new entry cannibalizing some Civic sales, but Honda is not creating a sub-brand for this segment, as Toyota has done for its Scion products. The Fit is built in Japan and imported, though if the small car found strong enough demand, Honda could add U.S. production.


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Ford Reflex Concept Explores Small-Car Market Potential

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Reflex Introduction at 2006 NAIAS
It is said around town that Ford is considering how and when they may re-enter the (very) small-car segment, which includes cars priced from around $10,000 to $15,000 or so fully equipped. This segment is expected to see substantial growth over the next several years. These cars are smaller in size than entries like the Ford Focus or Honda Civic, and most typically wear sedan or hatchback bodystyles. Chevrolet’s Aveo, Toyota’s all-new Yaris and the defunct Echo, the Scion xA, the Hyundai Accent and Kia’s Rio are among examples of vehicles in this segment.
While the 2005 Ford SynUS concept explored the possibilities a boxy urban vehicle might provide (certainly in part inspired by the Scion xB), on the 2006 auto show circuit the concept is for a sporty small car that takes into account room for small children. Enter the Reflex. Reactions by VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) analysts are very positive.

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