AutoNews Calls Toyota Tundra “A Bit Player”

0 Flares 0 Flares ×

Most often, journalists have an over tendency to spin things. Heck we do it from time to time (mainly to grab your attention), but twisting and inadequately covering a story is just bad journalism. Here is the rant.

First, here is the link to the story. Our main exception to the story is this: if you take Lentz’s two quotes and one indirect quote and put them together, it makes more sense to what he is saying. Not that way it was portrayed in the story. Mr. Rechtin makes it seem like Toyota is throwing in the towel on being a full-size truck competitor.

Here are Mr. Lentz’s quotes together:

“We’re never going to challenge the Big 3 in terms of volumes,” Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota’s North American region, said in an interview.

Now, he says Toyota will combine compact and full-sized pickup volumes when measuring its success in the truck market.

“Some shoppers will only consider compact,” Lentz said. “Some will only consider full-sized. But in the middle, there is some interchangeability between those two.”

The reality is that Lentz is simply saying that Toyota is going to measure success in the truck market LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE DOES. Ford releases their F-series truck sales numbers (basically every truck they make), RAM trucks does the same and GM separates out their numbers (Silverado and Sierra) for some analysts, but combines them for marketing purposes. Why won’t Toyota do the same?

Now, the “shock” factor that Mr. Rechtin is trying to obtain is that the sales projections of the 2006 Toyota Tundra failed to reach the target of 300,000. That 300,000 target is “within spitting distance of the Dodge Ram.” Ok. Let’s COMBINE the numbers for say March, 2013 using the numbers from

  1. 168,843 – Ford F-Series 
  2. 167,124 – GM Trucks (all) 
  3. 77,594 – RAM Trucks
  4. 63,047 – Toyota Trucks
  5. 17,290 – Nissan Trucks
  6. 4,265 – Honda Trucks (ok, just Ridgeline)
  7. 448 – Suzuki Trucks (Equator)


Hmm…. Looks like Toyota Trucks are barely behind RAM Trucks.

Now, Mr. Rechtin does point out that the recession took a big hit on truck sales. We would also suggest that the Earthquake and Tsunami had an impact too. Parts suppliers couldn’t supply factories and new vehicle production lagged. And research and development took a back seat too. In fact, Toyota and their pickups are finally seeing restored inventories on many dealer lots.

The last and probably most disappointing statement Mr. Rechtin makes is: “Both the Tundra and Tacoma now come off the same assembly line in San Antonio. If the Tundra can’t reach its numbers, Toyota can crank up Tacoma production.”

Cut back production of the Tundra? Look, the Tacoma sells really well and we are big fans of it. But, the Tundra also is selling really well. Both vehicles are seeing double-digit increases in sales volumes (March, 2013 – Tacoma +22.9%, Tundra +15.4%) and a new Tundra is coming out this fall.

The truth is that I respect the heck out of automotive writers, but this article is simply wrong.

What do you think? Is the Tundra “a bit player?”

Filed Under:

RSSComments (22)

Leave a Reply | Trackback URL

  1. tonyspin says:

    Does anyone remember when the Ford Taurus was the best selling car in America and the Camry was a “a bit player”?

  2. GoBig says:

    In Alaska, things are a bitter rosier. I have never seen such a high volume Toyota dealer as we have here. There are more Tundras and Tacos on the road then you can shake a stick at.

    I checked with a few dealers in Seattle, and their typical Tundra inventory was 10-20 units. In Anchorage, they consistently have a 100 from which to choose.

    Of course we also have the highest volume Subaru dealer in the nation.

    When you go someplace where the roads (and often the weather) leave a little to be desired, Toyota is holding its own.

    I would like to see sales numbers without government fleet sales in the mix. That accounts for a huge segment of the big 3 sales.

    In the parking lot at work, there are about 30 trucks, 8 of which are Tundras. That’s a lot more than 5.3%.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      Agreed. I live behind a collection of dealerships myself and I always see the majority of the mechanics getting out of Tundra pickups. It is always a telling sign what type of vehicles mechanics drive.

      There should be a survey about what makes mechanics own. That would be very interesting.


    • LJC says:

      Very many thanks for the first hand info! To throw more support your way, non-domestic trucks are used in Iceland. There’s a Top-Gear episode (season 3, Viking Trucks) were this is stated.

  3. don says:

    I just was in Lake City to have tires mounted on my Goldwing and their 2007 Tundra has 535,000 miles on it. I drive it and I was very impressed that it is still very quiet and the 5.7 has plenty of power.

  4. mk says:

    agree, take out fleet sales and I bet Tundra favors even better much closer to the big 3 even almost topping dodge ram pickup.

    To say tacoma and tundra is in same full sized pickup is not right though. Taco is much smaller not full sized neither is the ford ranger no longer made or the piece of junk 5 cylinder chevy colorado should not be included only f-150’s and chevy silverado and gmc sierra which is exactly the same pickup except tailgate logo and front hood and other tiny badge emblems.

    I could care less if ford or gm is #1 in truck sales doesn’t make me buy either one anymore than say a honda or dodge. I buy what I like and if someone doesn’t like it, they’re problem, not mine. I buy to suit my needs best that I can for best product out there. That is why I bought a used honda valkyrie interstate for a cycle over a harley davidson of any kind. More reliable, cheaper, just as fast if not faster, and smooth goldwing motor.

  5. Rick says:

    I never look at numbers until I get an indication from the manufacture that they are thinking of pulling out.

    My Tundra, and all of yall’s, is to me the best truck on the market – still! I take into account the capable DOHC motor, a good learning computer, a stout 6 speed that was an industry first for 2 years, an industry leading, massive 10.5″ rear! No one has that in a 1/2 ton. A well sorted interior (mine is a ’12 and I love the ‘cove gages’ and big rear seats), and a great ride and big brakes.

    It’s reliable. The nice looking Ram will never be. There are no union thugs sabotaging the Tundra. It’s lighter than the Ford and the Silverado both whom have blocky styling and small rears, gas guzzling V8’s and reliability issues with drivetrain.

    Toyota should disregard the hyperbole surrounding the “Big Two” and continue to build a truck that has what the others do not. Lead by example and the people will come.

  6. Mike S. says:

    Toyota is nothing more than a bit player. Have Ford, GM and Dodge add their smaller trucks into that count and then you’ll see how small Toyota’s market share really is. Truck buyers are looking for a truck you can use as a truck with a real size bed not a truck with a soccer mom build.

    All Toyota has going for it is reliability. The problem is Only those who own Toyota’s know this. Toyota needs to rebuild the Blundra from the frame up or better yet lose the Tundra name and start all over.
    How hard would it be to build a better truck than the big three?

    Come on Toyota step up to the plate or get out of the big truck business.
    Just like Toyota’s President said shortly after the Blundra release “The Tundra is a major disappointment”

    • Tim Esterdahl says:

      Mike S.,

      Re-read my article, the numbers I put in it do add in all the smaller trucks. And actually, Toyota is just behind RAM and closing the gap.

      Where did you find the quote from the Toyota president? I’d like to see that.


    • LJC says:

      Ah, here we have a typical ignorant comment from a “domestic” truck owner. I suspect your just pissed because the Tundra has traits you wish your truck had. For example: reliability. Second, a totally kicka$$ drive train. Third, J2807 compliance. I could go on.

      I suspect your reply will be the frame is flimsy and the Tundra has rust problems. The frame has the same design as a GM 3500 HD and Ford Super Duty. It’s a fact the previous generation did have a frame rust problem. But Toyota was responsible and gave owners %150 KBB trade value.

      If the consumer market were equally and fairly compared, it would be a different story. For some reason, these figure are never published.

      I just don’t get why most “domestic” truck owners have their head in the ground.

    • Mickey says:

      Really Mike? If you wouldn’t have called the truck names maybe your story would have credit. Since you kept using the name calling on the truck your story is just a “Story”. Nothing wrong with the frame. It’s you Mike that can’t comprehend what the frame does. How come your big 3 don’t use the “J” standards? Now you can see how small your wonderful non made in the USA big 3 is.

  7. AD says:

    I would say Toyota should combine truck sales and they don’t look so bad. What does look bad is the lack of fleet sales for the Tundra even here in S.A. where Tundra’s can be seen everywhere but local school districts and utilities.

    The 2014 Tundra will be a bit player. That is due to the changes Ram made, Ford Atlas concept an even the updates from GM 1.Frame, 2.Aero, 3.Front End, 4.Engines, 5.Interior and 6. a new High End Trim. GM and Ford have a new tranny coming. I would say that Toyota spent the least updating their 1/2 ton which probably means they are a bit player (lack of fleet sales) and the bean counters at Toyota only authorize the changes we got in Chicago all of which are designed to attract a more personal shoppers.

    I can see both sides of the argument Toyota Trucks isn’t doing so bad considering no HD line and natural disaster. The lack of fleet sales which hurts the overall number compared to the top 2 competitors probably changed Toyota to a bit player going forward and why Toyota gave us what they did with the 3rd gen Tundra.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      You nailed it on the head in that Lentz really is saying, “I don’t plan on competing with them on volume.” He gets that without fleet and HDs that Toyota will never catch them. But, he doesn’t need to. He just needs to make sure that Toyota is increasing its market share slowly but surely. And he needs to make sure the next “update” is all about the fuel economy. I believe Toyota will do this at the 2016 auto show.


    • LJC says:

      I disagree Tundra will be a bit player. The current generation Tundra has won more accolades than 1/2 ton Ford, GM, and Dodge trucks combined (JD Powers, Consumer Reports, etc.). When the 1/2 comparisons are done for 2013/2014, you will see that the Tundra will be very competitive in terms of a capability.

      The Tundra has two problems.
      First-Tim knows what I’m thinking-it lacks a factory locker!!!!!!!
      Second, the marketing campaign is very weak. The in-your-face and tough as nails commercials back in 2007 were freak’en awesome! The present day commercials are whimpy and some are even corny.

      Did I say the Tundra doesn’t come with a factory locker?

      One more thing: have the 2014 Tundra HP and Torque numbers been released? If not, wouldn’t be something if they went up. I read a while ago there’s another 40 HP in the 5.7 (naturally aspirated and regular go-go juice).

      • Tim Esterdahl says:


        LOL! I’ll keep reminding them about the factory locker. Yet, I don’t think it is going to happen!

        And no, 2014 Tundra numbers haven’t been released. Trust me, I am ALL over it when they do.


      • AD says:

        I do not really disagree with you to much other than when I told you the GM 6.2L would have more power (420hp/440lb ft est) and better FE (currently 13/19 most likely 14/20) than our 5.7L I stand by that. I don’t see another 40hp from our Dual VVT-I port fuel injected 5.7L without D4S as the new direct injected VVEL 5.6L from Nissan makes 400 @ 5800 rpm and 413 lb-ft @ 4000 rpm. That is on top of the fact that the VK56VD has a 98 mm bore compared to our 3UR-FE 94 mm bore. We just have a really long stroke which is why I think the only power change is possibly the 200 rpm lower peak torque.

        I also share with you he fact that my next truck will have a locker. I also love the early Tundra commercials as well but they happened at the wrong time and didn’t give Toyota what they wanted.;page=1

  8. Dustin says:

    I really wonder what the numbers would look like if you took out fleet sales for the big 3 or what it would take for Toyota to start cutting into those fleet purchases.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      There is a long standing argument around fleet numbers on this site. Also, there is actually some concern from current Tundra owners about fleet sales. Namely, the belief is that if Toyota goes after more fleet sales, it will drop the resale value on the current pickup. Frankly, I think that is a real concern. Double-edged sword if you ask me.


  9. Justin says:

    These posts are too funny. Each make has their benefits and draw backs. Owners of each make will claim their trucks is better at this/that and have blinders on. Competition breeds competition and no one truck is better at every aspect than another truck.

    As to the bit player part. If sales are the #1 factor, then yes Toyota is a bit player in the US market. If you take the #’s from March above for Ford, GM and Toyota and average them out over 12 months, Ford would sell 1,269,552 more trucks than Toyota. GM would sell 1,248,924 more trucks than Toyota. Toyota would only sell 756,564 trucks in a year compared to Fords 2,026,116 and GM’s 2,005,488. Not bad though, as by these figures, Toyota sells 1 truck for every 2.6 Fords or GM’s sold, which is better than it used to be.

    Not saying any one truck is better than the other, as we all have our preference. But if we were to use sales as the driving factor of what is a bit player, Toyota has a lot of ground to make up to be a contender.

  10. mk says:

    the biggest problem is to have the big 3 switch since they are still brainwashed. I was up until 2007 as well when finally the full sized tundra came out. Prior to 2007, they were too small a pickup for me and not enough power.

    I am a lot more open minded now than in 2007 and buy what fits my needs, even now own a 2011 hyundai santa fe se V6 and think that is just as good if not better than the RAV4 V6.

0 Flares Twitter 0 Facebook 0 Google+ 0 Email -- 0 Flares ×