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Toyota's Scion to use SaleMove software for virtual showroom

Scion vice president Doug Murtha unveils the five-door

Scion vice president Doug Murtha unveils the five-door iM Concept hatchback at the Los Angeles Auto Show media preview days, Nov. 19, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. Credit: Getty Images

Toyota Motor Corp.’s Scion brand, created to attract younger buyers and experiment with new ways of doing business, struck a deal to use SaleMove’s software to provide a virtual showroom for some of its dealers.

Potential buyers will be able to interact through text chat, voice calls or videoconferencing, SaleMove Chief Executive Officer Dan Michaeli said. A consumer and a Scion representative can share a screen and navigate the brand’s website together.

“Customers are no longer physically coming to the dealership, so we’re moving as much of the process in the dealership online,” Michaeli said in a telephone interview last week. “The website is becoming the new storefront, and this is the tool that allows them to capitalize on that.”

Toyota is trying to revive Scion with three new models over three years, after the brand’s U.S. sales fell 15 percent in 2014. Two of those new models, the iA sedan and the iM hatchback, are being shown Tuesday in an event leading up to the New York International Auto Show.

Scion plans to integrate SaleMove’s platform with about 50 dealers that participate in the brand’s experimental programs, starting this summer, said Andrew Barton, the Toyota unit’s digital marketing manager. The Scion deal is part of SaleMove’s partnership with Autobytel Inc., which resells the New York- based software company’s technology to the auto industry.

Consumers will be able to start on and then shift to a dealership website and representative when they’re closer to a purchase, Barton said in a March 30 interview.

The program is optional now and may be expanded to the rest of Scion’s more than 1,000 U.S. dealers, depending on how it performs in engaging consumers and generating sales, he said. Scion at some point may offer incentives to get dealers to join in, Barton said.

Toyota’s goal with Scion “is to bring in a new younger buyer to the family,” Barton said. “Our whole position is to try new things, new business models, new processes, learn quickly what works and what doesn’t and share that back with the broader enterprise.”


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