Honda and Toyota create vehicles that are both a means of transportation AND a destination in themselves.
Mass Customization is alive! Witness Honda and Toyota’s bold move into the Activity Support Trucks (AST) category, which is all about Generation Y and the way it uses and customizes their cars. After a successful launch in Japan, Honda recently introduced its ‘Element
‘ model in the US market, a car that is, in marketing speak, a means of transportation AND a destination in itself. Meaning that the owner can hang out in it, get dressed in it, and customize the vehicle from looks to multi-media capacities.
Toyota recently introduced a similar ‘dorm room on wheels’, the ‘Scion xB
‘, creating an entire new brand around this phenomenon.
All of this was inspired by research showing that Generation Y not only loves to cruise, but also likes to hang out in or around its cars, listening to music, eating and drinking, playing games, or using it as a changing room when at the beach or doing outdoor sports activities. On top of that, there was a demand for enough space to stuff everything from lots of friends to skate/surfboards and mountain bikes into the ASTs.
So the cars feature backseats that can be folded into beds, or folded against the walls to create unobstructed storage space, front doors that open wider than usual, and sunroofs in the back so you can stand up (head sticking out of the car) to get changed. Interior surfaces are covered with a durable rubber texture, to facilitate garden hose-style cleaning, and loads of optional technical gadgets, rrom video screens in the back to wireless internet and massive audio systems including ten speakers, subwoofer and MP3 player.
Not only should the Element and xB appeal to Gen Y (and older, wealthier Gen Y wannabe’s) in car-loving, outdoor crazy nations like the US, Canada and Australia, they also offer a valuable lesson in how to truly cater to an audience’s changing needs and uses of familiar products.
2nd June 2003
Website: www.element.honda.com/, www.scion.com/