Apparently it's never too early to learn about vehicle financing.
So Toyota Financial Services has launched “Scion Solutions” within Whyville (www.whyville.net), a virtual world for children and young teens, ages eight to 15.
With Scion Solutions, Whyville Internet users will be able to finance their own virtual Toyota's Scion brand xB. In the process, they will learn about interest rates, down payments, credit and leasing and their applications in real life.
Before, only Whyville citizens with enough clams (Whyville's virtual currency) could customize and buy virtual Scion xBs for cruising around the virtual world. But now, Whyville youngsters 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,” says 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, which emulate real-life FICO credit scores.
A Whyvillian's WhyCO score depends on a number of factors including 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 also points 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.
“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.