Last week, spy photos of the car on a transporter in Southern California showed up on the Internet and seemed to verify the speculation. So when Jack Hollis, the vice president of Scion, introduced the concept car with the words “the future of personalized transportation,” there was little surprise.
But it wasn’t just a Toyota iQ rebadged as a Scion that appeared on the stage; it was a bright yellow-green custom concept car, with four flared fenders and 18-inch custom wheels. And it didn’t just appear on stage — the small car descended on a platform from the rafters, softly landing on the stage to enthusiastic applause. “How’s that for a quick download?” Mr. Hollis asked in classic Scion youth-speak.
“It’s small, but fierce,” he said. “If it should join our future line-up, I think it could reach iconic status like our xB because of its polarizing style and accessibility for personal expression.”
Indeed, the iQ is very likely to join Scion’s future lineup.
In regular practice, concept cars are used by automakers to predict future design. In the case of the iQ, Scion started with a stock iQ and built a concept car around it.
“Our job was to take an existing iQ and make a custom car,” said Troy Sumitomo, designer of the car and owner of Five Axis, based in Huntington Beach, Calif.
Mr. Sumitomo stood upstage from the iQ Concept and the scrum of photographers around it. He said that the centerpiece of the interior was the 10-inch pop-up monitor on top of the center console. When the monitor is closed, the image on its screen still projects out of its acrylic casing and casts its image in a spasm of moving colors throughout the cabin — theoretically, at least. With massive spotlights hitting the car, the monitor’s effect was severely diminished.
“Everything is based on the center console,” said Mr. Sumitomo, whose Five Axis is responsible for several past Scion concepts, including the Hako and the t2B concepts. “Because that’s where the driver interface is.”
Mr. Sumitomo said his goal with the interior was to capture a concept car flair. The headliner and seats are made of a wet-suit style material, called Scuba. The color scheme of the dials is new. The normal climate control and stereo controls have been replaced by three aluminum bezels. They don’t function. After all, it’s supposed to be a concept car. But Scion is expected to introduce the car to market — in a much more sedate form — in the not too distant future.