The accessory business is certainly booming these days, with customers decking out their new rides with personalized touches from wheels and trailer hitches to graphics and horsepower. Even automakers are getting into the game. GM is a prime example, offering aftermarket-like wheels and other parts right from the factory. However, none of the automakers come close to Toyota’s attention to vehicle customization.

More specifically, it’s Southeast Toyota that leads the pack of new vehicle customization. SET is a privately owned distribution company that supplies every dealer in Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, and South Carolina with Toyota vehicles. You see, Toyota takes an interesting and rather different approach to distribution in the U.S. Unlike other automakers, it divides the country into 12 regions. Privately owned distributors control two of those regions; SET is one and Gulf States Toyota is the other. The remainder of the U.S. is handled by Toyota itself.

Long story short, the two private businesses act competitively, striving to sell more vehicles faster. One of SET’s and GST’s more successful strategies is offering a unique set of trim packages that come compete with aftermarket-like products, but that are covered by the vehicle’s warranty and are manufactured to Toyota’s specifications.

Enter: The Toyota X Series.

The X Series is a set of trim packages offered solely by SET for Toyota’s more popular models, including Tacoma, Tundra, 4Runner, Camry, Avalon, and most recently, Camry.

Southeast Toyota recently invited me to its Jacksonville, Fla. distribution hub and assembly center to learn more about the process and the products.

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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Nestled in the eastern section of Jacksonville, SET’s Westlake facility has a massive railhead located at the back edge of its property. It’s here that all the U.S. manufactured Toyotas headed for Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and the Carolinas are funneled into. Here the vehicles are processed and prepped for arrival at the individual dealerships. The white protective films are removed, vehicles are washed and vacuumed, and then given a thorough inspections. Those vehicles not slotted for extra add-ons are soon loaded onto 18-wheelers and carried towards dealership.

However, hundreds of vehicles each day are special ordered by local dealerships. These add-on include everything from paint protector wraps and door guards to full leather upgrades that replace the basic cloth seats for factory-quality leather covers.

Beyond the basic upgrades is SET’s X Series, consisting of three levels: XP, XSP, and XSP-X. Each level offers incrementally more content at incrementally higher prices. The Tundra, for example, is offered in XP and XSP-X trims with the choice of either a black or chrome color option.

Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Workers remove the Tundra’s stock wheels and tires, replacing them with 20-inchers wrapped in BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain tires. Black “Stealth” running boards are added, along with a chrome exhaust tip and plenty of XP badging. For $2,999, the Tundra XP gets a custom, aftermarket look that’s all covered under the vehicle’s warranty and wrapped in the truck’s financing.

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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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For those who want to go all-out, SET offers the XSP-X for the Tundra. It consists of unique 20-inch wheels wrapped in meatier BFGoodrich All-Terrain tires, a “T-Rex” black billet grille, pocketed fender flairs, and “Predator” step bars. Inside the dashboard gets real carbon fiber overlays and doorsill protectors, along with leather seats that feature an embroidered XSP-X logo. Lastly, the truck gets XSP-X badging on the bedrails and a carbon fiber insert into the TUNDRA stamping on the tailgate. SET retails the package for $6,699 above the price of the Tundra.

Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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The 4Runner also gets its share of upgrades. Avaiable with the XP package, the SUV comes with the billet aluminum grille, black side steps, 20-inch wheels with the BFGoodrich Rugged Terrain tires, and black emblem overlays on the Toyota badges. Like the Tundra’s XP package, the 4Runner’s XP price is $2,999 over the SUV’s MSRP.

Talks about the Tacoma nowadays center around the upcoming 2016 model as it ushers in the next generation. However, SET hasn’t left the current Tacoma behind. Offered only with in XSP-X trim, the Tacoma comes with many of the same features as the XSP-X Tundra, including wheels, tires, side steps, chrome exhaust tip, and fender flairs. In addition, the Taco XSP-X comes with extra underbody skidplating, a body-color hood scoop, and all the related XSP-X badging.

Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Toyota’s X-Series also extends to its sedans as well, offering wheel, tire, graphics, and ground effects packages on the Corolla, Camry, and Avalon. Starting from the bottom, the Corolla is offered with one package – the XSP – with includes a rear decklid spoiler, a blacked-out graphics package, a ground effects package that visually lowers the car, and a set of aluminum brake caliper covers colored in red.

The Avalon XSP offers swanky 19-inch BBS alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin tires, a unique upper grille insert, LED daytime running light strips, ground effects, illuminated XSP doorsills, and embroidered XSP headrests.

Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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Gear Up: Regional Toyota Distributer Creates Unique Trim Lines
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New to the lineup – and never before seen – is the Camry XSP package. It includes the same ingredients as the Corolla, but adds several of the options from the higher-specced Avalon. Those additions include the BBS wheels, black Toyota badge overlays. Unique to the Camry are the dual, chrome-tipped oval exhaust tips. The upgraded tips follow the contour of the lower rear valance and replace the single, round exhaust tip.

Andy Eccher, SET’s Vice President of Distribution and Accessory Sales, says the X-Series adds excitement and a touch of uniqueness to the otherwise mass-quantity vehicles. This excitement, Eccher says, helps move vehicles exponentially faster than non-equipped Toyotas. “One way we measure sales is in ‘velocity,’ or the time it takes a car to go from whole sell to a retail sell. We’re seeing our X-Series vehicles move up to 27 days faster than the standard Toyotas.”

In other words, a dealership in the SET network is able to move a Tundra XSP-X, for example, 27 days faster than a similar Tundra that lacks the XSP-X package. Eccher says it’s that added value and style that makes customers move on those vehicles more quickly than on average. And in the game of car sales, that’s certainly good for business.

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