Toyota Financial Services Launches 'Scion Solutions'
Tool Aims to Educate Whyville Users About Financing as They Purchase Virtual Scion Vehicles
LOS ANGELES, July 17 -- Whyville.net and Toyota Financial Services announced the launch of "Scion Solutions" this month within Whyville.net, the popular virtual world for children and young teens (8-15).
Sponsored by Toyota's Scion brand, the Scion xB first arrived in Whyville in May. Whyville citizens, but only those with enough clams (Whyville's virtual currency), could customize and buy virtual Scion xBs for cruising around the virtual world. Now, with help from Scion Solutions, Whyvillians who do not have enough clams to buy Scions outright will be able to finance them.
"Whyville Scion Solutions is a perfect example of motivated, engaged learning," explains Dr. Jen Sun, President of Numedeon, Inc., Whyville's parent company. "The Scions are a huge hit with our kids. They want cars! But most citizens just don't have enough clams. We've set up the motivation for them to learn what it means to take out a loan. They'll learn about interest rates, down payment, credit history, and, perhaps most important of all, being responsible. If you default on your loan, you'll lose your car, and your credit history will be ruined so that you can't take out another loan. Educators and researchers know that students learn best when they really care about the topic. That's exactly what we try to do in Whyville."
Whyville's Club Scion now boasts a Scion Solutions Office where Whyvillians are met by a virtual Toyota Financial Services advisor who walks them through the loan process and helps them learn about their "WhyCO" scores. The WhyCO is designed to emulate the FICO(R) in real life. A Whyvillian's WhyCO score depends on a number of factors including his virtual income, ownership of a Whyville house or business, number of log-in days in Whyville, and leadership roles in the community. Based on these factors, a loan application is approved or rejected. Citizens who do not qualify for a loan by themselves can get loans if they are co-signed by wealthier friends. The Toyota Financial Services advisor will also point applicants to on-line resources to help applicants understand the details of financing, leasing, interest rates and credit.
The virtual Scion xB's are priced at 15,000 clams for the basic model, while a fully loaded model exceeds 35,000 clams. Whyvillians can customize their xB's with real-world and fantasy accessories. They can even spend time in a bumper-sticker factory to design decals to apply to their xB's. Once purchased, a virtual Scion owner can cruise around Whyville, picking up friends for a ride.
The term "Scion" has been used nearly 200,000 times in chat since the program launched less than three months ago. To date, Whyvillians have purchased more than 1,200 Scions and gone on 140,000 rides in their cars. With the introduction of Scion Solutions, many more Whyvillians will be able to own and drive a Scion, while learning valuable real-life lessons about financing and fiscal responsibility. In only a few days since opening, the Scion Solutions office has already approved several thousand loans, each time engaging the user in an educational manner.
"We'd like to have educated customers down the road, and this program is a terrific opportunity to help tweens understand the process of financing a vehicle, everything from interest rates to FICO scores to repaying the loan," says Maria Tirado, TFS interactive marketing manager. "TFS wanted to be able to represent that for kids."
About Toyota Financial Services
TFS is the finance and insurance brand for Toyota in the United States. TFS retail auto financing and leasing services are offered through dealerships and Toyota Motor Credit Corporation (TMCC) and extended service contracts and other vehicle and payment protection products are offered through the dealer and Toyota Motor Insurance Services (TMIS). Lexus Financial Services and Scion Solutions are also featured brands under the TFS umbrella of products and services. Scion Solutions was created in June 2003 to support the launch of Scion.
Whyville.net is the leading educational virtual world for boys and girls, ages 8 to 15. For eight years, the site has successfully created an environment that engages children to learn while having fun. Inside Whyville, "citizens" learn & play, socialize & recreate, govern & earn, write & design, eat & dance, and much, much more. Numedeon, Inc., Whyville's parent company, develops virtual worlds that promote learning through interactivity and engagement. Numedeon was founded by Caltech scientists possessing research and practical experience with inquiry-based, constructivist pedagogy dictating that people learn best when actively engaged.