SEATTLE -- An online car-buying program that targets Scion's young customer base is barely off the ground. But executives are already preparing to roll out a similar system "as soon as possible" for the Toyota brand.
That's according to Bill Fay, general manager of Toyota Division, which encompasses both brands. Fay told Automotive News this month at a press launch here for the 2016 Tacoma that Toyota brand aims to roll out its own version of Scion's voluntary Pure Process Plus online transaction program in six to 12 months.
Blame the shift on the kids.
"Millennials are starting to express the fact that they'd like to do more shopping online," Fay said. "They'd like to connect that shopping to a buying experience ... that needs to be quicker and more transparent."
The Scion and Toyota initiatives are part of a broader move by automakers, dealers and third parties to simplify car buying through online and mobile tools.
Large dealership groups such as AutoNation Inc. and Sonic Automotive have set up online storefronts that let consumers complete many facets of a typical transaction online. General Motors' Shop-Click-Drive program allows customers to find vehicles, negotiate prices and handle paperwork online. And TrueCar Inc. has built its business around connecting its network of dealers with leads generated through its websites and mobile apps to minimize price haggling.
Fay said the Toyota and Scion programs aren't an effort to compete with what the big dealership groups and TrueCar are doing. Rather, he said, they are a response to changing consumer buying habits and a way to work with dealers to provide a more integrated experience. Toyota dealers who opt in to the yet-unnamed program will have flexibility in how they implement it in their stores, the company said.
Fay said Toyota will use what it's learning from Pure Process Plus to shape the Toyota program, including the information technology and finance and insurance sides of the operation. The goal, he said, is to reduce the time a customer spends in the physical dealership to about an hour.
Scion's setup allows a user to go online, pick and spec out a Scion vehicle; search local dealerships for the exact vehicle; get price info, including taxes and fees; calculate monthly payments; get an estimate on a trade-in, and apply for and get approved for credit with a certificate to take to the dealership.
Scion's pilot program has about 60 participating U.S. dealers, with 30 more expected to join by year end.
The company says 150 are expected by the end of 2016, out of about 1,000 Scion dealers total.
Toyota dealers will get a preview of the online service at a national dealer meeting next month.