The Truth About Cars » scion xB The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 17 Jul 2014 20:36:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » scion xB RIP Boxy Scions (2002-2014) Tue, 03 Jun 2014 15:25:34 +0000 IMG_0165-550x392

It’s the end of an automotive era, as the Scion xB (as well as the milquetoast xD) are set to die by the year’s end. In exchange, we’re getting a couple of new, world market Toyotas to shore up Scion’s lineup.

AutoGuide is reporting that two new additions will join the Scion lineup: first, Scion will get a version of the Toyota Auris, a hatchback that shares some mechanicals with the Toyota Corolla. One chief difference is the addition of an independent rear suspension, and our own Ronnie Schreiber had the chance to compare our Corolla with the Auris not long ago. With the Toyota Matrix set to die, the Auris would be a perfect replacement.

The second vehicle will be based on the new Mazda2/Toyota Yaris joint venture, but it will take the form of a conventional sedan and be built at Mazda’s new Mexican factory.

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Ur-Turn: A Metalhead Responds To The Scion Piece Mon, 08 Oct 2012 15:43:35 +0000

TTAC Reader Richard responds to Derek’s Scion Metalhead Marketing piece from the perspective of a car lover and metal fan

” ‘Entrails ripped from a virgin’s c**t,’ ” I thought to myself.  Toyota wants to play patron to a musical genre that has spawned songs like ‘Entrails Ripped from a Virgin’s C**t’ and ‘Christraping Black Metal.’ What are they thinking?”

My disbelief at Scion AV’s announcement echoed across heavy metal fandom. If there’s such a thing as collective cognitive dissonance, Scion AV caused it. Nobody could believe that Toyota was going to do this. What did heavy metal have to do with selling cars? And why would Toyota risk its stodgy and safe image on promoting itself via heavy metal, even if done through the ‘edgy’ and ‘youth-oriented’ Scion brand?

Toyota’s decision was and is questionable in four ways. First up: return on investment, if such a thing is calculable in this sort of endeavor. Not only was Toyota going to promote itself by sponsoring heavy metal concerts and EP length recordings, but it was going subterranean with its efforts. For mainstream listeners, metal consists of the four biggest bands, Black Sabbath, Iron Maiden, Metallica, and Judas Priest, plus whatever’s big at the moment. In the 90s and early 2000s, that would’ve been bands like Pantera, Tool, and nu-metal dreck like KoRn and Limp Bizkit. Today it would be bands like Lamb of God and Mastodon, and I wouldn’t be surprised if TTAC’s readership hasn’t heard of them. Toyota/Scion AV charged right past all of those commercially viable bands and straight into the underground.

Not to the deepest portions of the underground, though. Not to the boutique labels that release 666 hand numbered copies of an album on vinyl, but deep enough to make someone like me question their wisdom. Deep enough to make me wonder how they could ever justify their return on investment.

As of 10/07/12, here are the listener counts for some big name metal bands:

Iron Maiden: 1,707,577 listeners and 117,145,590 listens
Metallica: 2,222,074 listeners and 200,177,496 listens
KoRn: 2,144,093 listeners and 95,712,085 listens
Black Sabbath: 1,887,855 listeners and 59,002,836 listens

Some bands that are currently on major labels:

Mastodon: 595,766 listeners and 27,849,836 listens
Opeth: 649,761 listeners and 54,861,149 listens
Lamb of God: 836,366 listeners and 35,661,176 listens

…and the listener counts for 7 of the bands that Scion has sponsored on tour and/or via free EP releases:

Enslaved: 134,715 listeners and 6,138,855 listens
Revocation: 23,991 listeners and 713,002 listens
Immolation: 65,737 listeners and 2,725,147 listens
Melvins: 263,004 listeners and 9,104,309 listens
Wolves in the Throne Room: 80,512 listeners and 2,422,323 listens
Nachtmystium: 41,598 listeners and 1,666,147 listens
Pallbearer: 7,362 listeners and 105,479 listens

There’s a good reason why the playcounts for the Scion AV bands are so relatively low, and it’s not the quality of the music. Toyota did not choose a musically accessible genre to sponsor. Death metal variously presents the listener with a 200+ bpm assault, specialized drumming techniques, sweep-picking, and dozens of parts per song, or alternatively, sludgy and murky riffs delivered at a zombie’s lurch. Black metal is based around heavily distorted guitars tremolo strummed as quickly as possible, creating a hypnotic sheet of white noise. Doom metal moves like a zombie without legs. Across subgenres, extreme metal’s vocals are mostly performed using the false cords in the throat, so the result is a variety of screams, shrieks, grunts, and roars. All of this stuff is impenetrable and repulsive to most mainstream listeners.

Tour attendance is commensurate with those counts. Toyota also chose not to sponsor big metal package tours like Summer Slaughter or Ozzfest. Scion AV is true niche marketing.

Second, there’s the potential for damage to Toyota’s reputation. Underground metal’s lyrics are as extreme as the music. Satanism, gore, depictions of violence, misogyny, misanthropy, anti-religious screeds, the occult, and pagan religions are common lyrical topics. The musicians can be as extreme as the music. Deicide’s frontman has branded his forehead with an upside down cross for years. Black metal has a history of racism, murder, church burnings, suicide, and possibly cannibalism. (Note: the ‘black’ refers to the music’s tone, not the skin color of the musicians.)

Toyota was and is attempting to sell average American cars with the musical equivalent of Formula 1 racers, Top Fuel Dragsters, and primered diesel Chevettes. Not only that, but they are running the risk that Joe Sixpack and Jane Housewife discover that Scion is promoting music that runs counter to everything they believe in. Joe and Jane might not know enough or care enough to do the research to find out that Toyota sponsors evil music through Scion AV, but that doesn’t matter. Give the Christian Right or PC Left two minutes on the Internet, and they’ll suss it out and spread the word. This has happened before. Does anybody remember Tipper Gore and the Parents Music Resource Council? Or the time Judas Priest were sued for backmasking suicidal messages, or when Slayer was sued for causing their fans to commit ritual “Satanic” murders?

The third and fourth questionable aspects of the Scion AV endeavor are the customer base that Toyota is attempting to reach. While there are plenty of old-timer metalheads who were there in the 70s and 80s, there are many, many more metalheads who are in their mid 30s or 20s. I’m 29, and thus at the beginning of the Gen Y/Why generation. If you’ve paid attention to the news, we are being hit hard by unemployment and decreasing wages. We’re saddled with monster student loans and massive national debt. I won’t belabor you with further details.

Frankly, metalheads are nerds. Most of us Gen Y types barely have money for our chosen hobby. Cars? Who gives a shit! We’ve chosen an expensive hobby, one that’s comparable in nerd factor and financial drain to…being a car nerd.

One thing Toyota got right: metalheads, like most people, treat cars as appliances. I’m an exception; I know one other metalhead who cares about cars. My goofy pen-name is drawn from an obscure metal song about cars, I drive a Cobalt SS (turbo and LSD, natch), and I used to own a GTO Monaro (LS2 ftw). I’m doing better than many Gen Y’ers in that I have a stable job with career prospects and high demand from Fortune 500 companies. I can afford to sock money away and keep the Cobalt happy and fed and still drop a few hundred dollars a month on heavy metal crap. If push came to shove though, I’d sell the Cobalt and find something used, cheap, reliable, and with a stick so that I could keep buying metal stuff. I am not going to miss out on limited print run CDs from my favorite labels. In that, I’m one with the metalhead crowd.

Finally, assuming that metalheads had money for cars or particularly cared about them, there’s the risk that Scion’s sponsorship will (or has) backfired on Toyota. Underground metal is staunchly independent. The lack of money circulating through the genre’s marketplace means that bands and record labels are fiercely DIY. We picked up on 80s punk and hardcore’s anti-mainstream, anti-success attitude. We’re opposed to plays for commercial or mainstream acceptance. We’ll turn harder than Schumaker’s Ferrari when a band tries to sell out. We don’t need Scion’s money. Some of us don’t want it.

We value our freedom of speech as well, allowing Cannibal Corpse to lyrically torture women and Arghoslent to write racist horseshit like “Quelling the Simian Surge.”

Like any culture or group, we need enemies. We need an Other. We’ve had many: punk rock and hardcore, posers, hair metal, nu-metal, sell-outs, grunge/alternative rock, and carpetbagging hipster thieves. The music industry itself.

Add those factors, anti-commerce, pro-freedom of speech, and oppositional attitudes, and Scion’s courting disaster. The slightest misstep, and we’ll perceive them as exploiting us, censoring us, or working against us. Even if they get things right, we might just take their gifts and ignore their cars anyway.

You don’t need me to say this, but it bears repeating: corporations would sacrifice babies if made them cool to consumers. Precious few companies ever become cool. I don’t think any company has ever advertised its way into being cool.

So far, Scion hasn’t screwed themselves over, but they haven’t achieved any immediately obvious success either. To put it bluntly, whoever’s running the operation knows their shit and did their research. They’ve sponsored respectable first-tier underground bands. They haven’t overdone it, and they haven’t censored anybody. Their concerts have been professional and well run. They’ve treated the bands and fans better than they would usually be treated within the confines of the metal industry: the tickets are cheap or free, the bands get paid on time and per contract, and the EPs are completely and totally free for download. Because the bands that Scion chose aren’t all that objectionable* in relative terms, nobody’s been censored other than perhaps a written or unwritten understanding that they don’t publicly slag Scion or Toyota. The Scion branded merch is free and reportedly both quality and not overdone. The socks in particular are apparently quite popular.

Nevertheless, there’s the success and return on investment issue. Again, I’ve seen almost no evidence that Scion’s campaign is working. I’ve heard through the grapevine that a number of band members are quite grateful and have reciprocated by purchasing vehicles. That’s not Scion’s goal, because touring bands have no money and the bulk of the metal customer base are mere fans like me. This past summer, I attended Maryland Deathfest, which is the largest and best extreme metal fest in America. I estimate that over 3,000 people attended it. I made a point of walking the parking lot. There were plenty of older Toyotas and a few newer ones. There were no Scions.

However, this is Toyota we’re talking about. Toyota plays the long game; like the Soviet Union, they’ve got 5 year plans and they stick to them, except that the plans actually work. Toyota is marketing to a niche, but it’s cheap marketing. Those EPs can’t have cost more than $25k each to record and release each, and in the metal underworld, the publicity takes care of itself. A couple of thousand dollars per tour date in a band’s coffers is a rounding error in Toyota’s annual advertising budget. In exchange, Scion gets to plaster their logo on artwork, merch, and banners. People like me blog about it. I’d be shocked if Scion AV’s total cost to Toyota is more than a million dollars a year. It’s also worth mentioning that Scion AV is targeting genres other than metal as well.

If we judge Scion AV as a long-term marketing campaign, than I’ve already seen an example of it succeeding. One of my fellow metal bloggers recently purchased a Corolla S instead of a Civic or Focus. He bought the car because it met his needs and because Toyota gave him the best deal. However, he admitted that he remembered Scion AV’s sponsorship and how it treated us.

That’s what Toyota is banking on. They know that most of us aren’t filthy, drugged up, unemployable morons. They know that one day we’ll need cars. And when that time comes, we might remember that free Enslaved EP and that cheap Pallbearer tour date in New York City, and maybe, just maybe, we’ll reciprocate.

Choosing metal was astute in a more subtle way than just the cheapness of the sponsorships, because metalheads are loyal consumers. We’ll stick with a band even through crap album after crap album. We’ll welcome them back after a stylistic misstep. We’ll attend tours and put up with the weak songs just to hear the hits, and we’ll drive or fly cross country to do it. When was the last time you bought every CD that a record company released? We know individual record labels’ release schedules, and we buy every album based on label recognition alone.

Companies not named Apple would, again, sacrifice babies for this kind of loyalty. It’s feasible that if we buy a Toyota and it doesn’t suck, we’ll be back in 5 to 10 years to buy another, and another, and another. Of course, that’s true of other consumers as well.

I wrote this as a partial response to Derek’s recent piece regarding Scion AV, which comes at least two years after Scion AV started supporting metal. The overall message of Derek’s post was that Scion AV supporting metal is a waste and a mistake. I’m not convinced that it will be a waste or a mistake, especially if Scion AV keeps going and ramps up their efforts to full albums and additional tours. Derek linked to an AdWeek article, and paraphrasing it, Scion’s sales manager claims that Scion’s advertising sells cars and that metalheads buy cars in quantity enough to justify the marketing. I have no idea how Toyota will back up that determination with data, now or ever. At current funding and effort levels, I think Scion AV will turn out to be a wash for Toyota. Then again, I still think they’d do better to sponsor bigger acts and package tours. It’d cost more money, but it would reach a much, much larger audience.

You could also argue that targeting underground metal, a subculture that is brand apathetic as it pertains to cars, is genius. Being first does count for something.

As previously mentioned, Toyota and Scion took a risk associating themselves with underground metal. If certain elements from either side of political spectrum, especially on the Republican side, decide to pay attention, this could all backfire badly on Toyota. Chevy, Ford, Home Depot, and Target have all been boycotted for advertising to the LBGT community or for being LBGT friendly. I’m sure that in the Religious Right’s eyes, metalheads fall at or below the LBGT community in terms of undesirability.

Derek also focused on one of the Scion sales manager’s (Yoshizu) quotes as being particularly bullshitty:

“[A metal fan is] not necessarily trying to be a trendsetter, but more of a thought leader. They’re really into journalism. Their blogs are like 2,000 words [each].”

and also:

“The person I’m now targeting is more inclusive about their community.”

Derek was right about one thing: this is a PR hack’s flack. I know what the Scion dude is saying, though. He’s talking about me and a lot of metal fans that I know, the bloggers especially. We pride ourselves on our taste in music and sharing bands that we think are good. Every time I review a band’s album, I’m bring that band more fans. I’m supporting my bands with more than just my dollars. I don’t know about “trendsetting” or “thought leading,” from I am definitely free publicity and I am definitely inclusive about my community. Yoshizu was right about metalheads talking about Scion AV tours and releases.

Yoshizu’s on a roll:

“They actually appreciate the corporate contribution[.]”

As they say on these internets: +1. I don’t know for a fact whether Toyota’s investment in my preferred musical genre is paying off for the company. None of the fans do. It doesn’t matter. Most of us are happy to benefit from Toyota’s largesse. I certainly am. I won’t start objecting until I learn that Toyota is actually paying bands a middle class salary or dropping huge wads of cash in their pockets.

In the meantime, keep buying Toyota products, Scions in particular. I suspect that your dollars are throwing my bands’ concerts and recording my bands’ music. Thanks for reading, and thanks for paying. I’ll think of TTAC’s commenters and throw some horns on your behalf the next time I see a show.

N.B. One band, Nachtmystium, had their Scion AV sponsorship pulled due to allegations of racism and racist beliefs. The band claims that they are not racist.

Richard Street-Jammer has been a metalhead for over a decade. He makes dumb jokes, car metaphors, and rambles incoherently about bands older than he is at He wishes he hadn’t chosen such a dopey but appropriate pen name.

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Why Scion Matters Wed, 08 Aug 2012 16:22:02 +0000


A couple of months ago, Aaron Robinson of Car & Driver wrote an expansive article about Scion.

This quote pretty much summarized his view on the brand.

“I have no doubt that Scion will eventually go the way of Plymouth.”

I’m sure he wasn’t implying that cheap Scions will someday morph their way into becoming Toyota equivalents that offer fake wood trim exterior panels and trombone case red interiors. As a long-time automotive writer and columnist, he was simply reading the proverbial writing on Scion’s firewall that has been ever deeper ingrained into their product line.

“Mediocrity… is killing the brand.” This inscription ought to be welded onto every frumpish inner panel of Scion’s soon to be defunct models, the Scion xB and Scion xD. Underpowered compact cars that look like SUV’s in 2012 sell about as well as two-seater cars that look like frogs. Or bland plain-jane sport coupes that try capriciously to do battle with the market leaders.

Heck, I recently saw a perfectly fine 2010 Scion Xb with only 28k miles sell for $10,000 at a well attended dealer auction. A near forty percent drop off the original MSRP over just a two year period. In my profit driven world, where nearly every Toyota model represents stiff price premiums and high demand finance fodder, nobody wants to buy these things.

The reason for this market failure is obvious.

If a product is inherently bad or terminally neglected, no name brand will save it. It’s that simple. Every brand out there has market failures. In the case of Scion, they are going from a 2 for 3 boom on their debut generation (xB and tC good, xA not so much) to a 1 for 5 second run (FR-S may likely be the sole survivor.)

Scion is on the ropes if you look at their current model line-up. But the same could have been said for Hyundai back in 1999, Subaru back in 1994, or even the 1st generation Infiniti models back in 1992. All of these brands suffered mortal market wounds of the debilitating type.

But that did not mean the brands could not fill a gaping void in the marketplace. All of them succeeded because they found several niches that no other brand could fully satisfy.

Which brings us to the dire need of the present day.

Right now Toyota and Honda are facing a market exodus in one broad segment that is largely a reflection of their own long-term successes. Where do you go after you have already owned the reliable family car? Or the commuter scooter that has taken you everywhere and back with low ownership costs?

In the old world the move was pretty simple. The automotive world was upwardly mobile and that Toyota or Honda buyer could be just as content in a Lexus or Acura. Unfortunately, something terrible happened to both of these prestige brands between the Clinton era and the modern day.

They became boring, generic, and a bit old fogey in their market reach. These days a middle-aged person generally does not aspire to own a Lexus or an Acura. If they have put in their dues of driving the family car, they are looking for that thrill. As is the younger guy who is not quite ready to settle down, but is finally making the big bucks.

These folks, if they are willing to spend their money, often want the anti-Toyota. The anti-Honda. The car that is more involving to drive… but… with this desire also comes a concern.

These buyers also want a car that is reliable and doesn’t represent a potential black hole in their annual budget. Like everyone else, they want to have their cake and eat it too.

Two potential options are out there. The first is testing out a sporty prestige brand. An Audi. A BMW. A sports oriented car that is heavily marketed as a lease vehicle and can provide them with that extra thrill that they certainly won’t get with another Camry or Accord.

My brother Paul is the poster child for this. Two new Toyotas and one new Honda for the family over the last 15 years. The oldest child is about to go to college. The money is in the bank. The sacrifice of ‘fun driving’ for ‘family driving’ has already been made.

Did he want another Toyota or Honda? No, Paul and his wife wanted something different. Something that was not already driven by their senior citizen parents. They bought a 2012 Audi A6 and a CPO Audi A4.

The second option is to get the fun affordable car. Not too long ago fun usually meant two doors and a possible slight engine and suspension upgrade over the plain four door model. This is one of the main reasons why the Toyota Camry remained so dominant during the late 1990′s and early 2000′s. Fun and four doors were few and far between.

These days an affordable four door model can be just as sporty without the past sacrifice at the altar of practicality. A car with an Accent, a Soul, a good Fit, or a Focus, can be every bit as enjoyable to drive as a Veloster, a Forte, a Civic, or dare I say it… a Mustang.

Whether prestigious or plain named, a slew of buyers want the option to buy a fun car that does not share the same emblem of the car that they have been driving ever since the kids were little. Or ever since they were struggling to get established.

It’s not because they are unhappy with that reliable car. Sometimes folks just want something that is ‘not’ what they have been driving. Even if it has been a good car.

I can see Scion becoming the fun side of Toyota. The sporty side of a company that can already register millions in annual sales by harvesting the fertile fields of those seeking the ‘family car’, the ‘retiree car’, the ‘keep my ownership costs low’ car.

Toyota is already losing that buyer who picks the Altima over the Camry. The Mazda 3 and Fiat 500, over a Matrix or a Corolla. The reality is that by attracting a more conservative and older audience, you sometimes have to make compromises in design and interior ergonomics that make a car less appealing to those seeking fun and sport. Or even just simply something different.

There is still a gaping void of ‘fun’ between $15,000 and $35,000 that Scion could define as their specific market. I have no doubt that a car with the Toyota halo of reliability, coupled with sharp looks and exceptional handling, could lead to a new era of success for Scion.

The question is whether Toyota will invest in a Scion worthy of that reputation. To me the FR-S is one of those models. Should there be others?


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Peace Out, Scion xB Tue, 24 Apr 2012 14:58:06 +0000

Scion will be killing off their xB hatchback (beloved by at least one commenter) and the xD hatchback (which nobody really liked).

Scion sold only 17,000 xBs in 2012, down from a peak of 60,000 units just a few years ago. Scion seems to be moving in a different direction, with cars like the iQ and FR-S – but the much-loved tC (well, loved by the college co-ed set) seems to be sticking around as a volume model. Scion told Ward’s Auto that there won’t be any direct replacements for the two cars either, suggesting an all-new direction for Scion.

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New or Used: His and Hers Rides? Wed, 17 Aug 2011 20:30:03 +0000



Sokhom writes:

Sajeev and Steve,

I’m almost done with my tour here in Korea and it’s time to return to “America-land.”  That means it’s car shoppin’ time!  So if you’ll remember, I still have my S2000 that my father-in-law’s taken care of but I don’t want to use it as a DD.  And my wife wants a car of her own as well.  We’re going to Ft. Huachuca, AZ and lots of road trips to TN and other lands are in our future.  I want a spacious (read: wagon and AT) highway cruiser for the wife and something cheap and cheerful (read: MT) that I won’t mind baking in the AZ sun.

So here’s the ROE (rules of engagement):
Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish
My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish

Sajeev answers:

The definition of “Cheap + Cheerful” is way too subjective, but my interpretation for a Honda S2000 owner is something pure: crank windows, boring styling, totally forgettable yet fun to thrash because its so slow and nearly impossible to drive fast enough to raise an eyebrow.  So it comes down to availability in your area: Focus sedan, Versa, Elantra, Sentra or any non-Toyonda with its unnecessarily high resale value and brand recognition.  You don’t need a good car for normal people, you just need a good car!

As for the wifey, you gotta do it right and proper.  You can’t be rolling around in your shitbox, hate it, switch to the S2000 and make her jealous!  In the spirit of marital bliss, I’d recommend a TSX sport Wagon, used 3-series or A4 Avant with the mandatory CPO warranty or a handful of crossovers that just have the stuff you don’t find else where: panoramic roofs, amazing ICE, gigantic chrome wheels, nutzo styling, etc.  Then check out a slightly used Lincoln MKX, Infiniti FX, Mercedes ML (CPO only), BMW X5 (CPO only), or maybe a Northstar-powered Cadillac SRX.

Since you are a “regular” I think I know you very well (and your wife too, natch) I’ll demand you buy these two cars:  a shift-it-yourself Versa with no options and an Acura TSX Wagon.

Steve answers:
“Wife’s car: $30K-$40K, wagon-y, AT, luxo-ish”

The Honda Odyssey would be at the very front of that list. If you are going to do very long road trips nothing beats the space and comfort of a minivan. You should also consider a Chrysler Town & Country. They now have excellent handling (see Jack Baruth’s recent review here) and are every bit as luxurious as the Odyssey when fully optioned out.

My DD: $10K max, MT, beater-ish ‘cheap and cheerful’

I would test drive a long list of Honda, Subaru,  Mitsubishi, Ford (the rare 1st gen Fusion comes to mind), Scion Xb, and any other model with a manual transmission that strikes your fancy. I like the Xb if you are going to do a lot of in-town driving. Highway driving would encourage a midsized sedan like the Fusion with a 4-banger.

Good luck!

Need help with a car buying conundrum? Email your particulars to , and let TTAC’s collective wisdom make the decision easier… or possibly much, much harder.

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Depreciation? What’s That? Mon, 18 Oct 2010 14:51:26 +0000

Five years ago when it was new, this Scion xB cost $14,030 (no-haggle Scion pricing, fully equipped). Another ad for a similar ’06 xB touts: “Hard To Find”. I realize that dealers’ asking prices for used cars are negotiable. But as the owner of an identical low mileage ‘O5, this makes me wonder whether I’ve hit the depreciation lottery.

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