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Toyota Officially Delays Tundra Diesel Light Duty

Update: Read the complete story of the diesel Tundra

Despite our complete disbelief and our challenge of the original report, Toyota exec Don Esmond (a senior VP) was officially quoted as saying “We’ve pushed back the [Tundra diesel] until we can figure out where the market is going.” Kudos to Mike Levine for confirming his earlier report on the record.

Has Toyota made a smart move, or is this decision an error in judgment?

  1. Ford, GM, and Dodge have all announced plans to offer 150(0)’s with diesel engines in the next 18-24 months. Based on this announcement Toyota will be the only serious half-ton truck manufacturer without a diesel. Toyota has made great strides to be considered “one of the big-boys” in the truck business, yet this announcement surrenders truck leadership to the domestics and drains momentum.
  2. Toyota has already broadcast their intention to delay the HD Tundra for a few years. This move seemed wise at the time – especially with the Tundra LD diesel on the way – but now it looks as if Toyota is surrendering the HD segment to the domestics as well.
  3. As we discussed here a few months ago, the cost-benefit analysis of a light-duty diesel Tundra depends greatly on the price premium for the diesel engine. Toyota probably can’t sell too many Tundra’s with diesel engines unless they can get the diesel engine price increase to less than $2000. Considering the complexity of a modern diesel, that price range might not have been feasible. Yet, somehow, the domestic truck manufacturers have yet to back off their plans to produce half-ton diesel trucks. Is Toyota unable to match the diesel engine pricing of GM, Ford, and Dodge?
  4. The analysis from says that Toyota didn’t think they could sell enough diesel Tundra trucks to make a profit, with fuel prices being cited as part of the reason for lower sales. Yet Ford and Dodge both have a mountain of evidence to indicate that new truck sales have likely hit bottom. This would seem to agree with common sense – after all, trucks are still necessary equipment for a lot of Americans. If truck sales are likely to increase, why freeze development?

Toyota’s decision to pause the release of the 4.5L Tundra diesel was likely based on nothing more than accounting. It doesn’t make sense from a product development standpoint, and when Ford, GM, and Dodge enjoy strong sales of the 150(0) diesel trucks, Toyota will have to look back on this decision and wonder why they allowed accountants to build vehicles.

At least we can expect an updated Tundra next year…

New 09 Ram LAUNCHES With Cash On Hood

You know that the truck market is bad when Dodge has to offer $1000 cash back on the brand new 2009 Ram 1500 that JUST launched.

Only one word for this market – ugly. Really ugly. Really really ugly.

While Dodge will officially say they’re offering cash back on the 2009 because customers need this cash to facilitate a trade-in, that’s a smokescreen. An extra $1000 isn’t going to bail anyone out of an upside-down trade. The truth is that Dodge knows their product has to compete with a brand new 2009 F150 and solid offerings from GM and Toyota. While early reviews of the 2009 Dodge Ram talk about the new truck’s amazing ride (because they’re using a coil-spring rear suspension), improved engine with variable valve timing, and improved fuel economy, the fact is this truck is still a Chrysler product.

Chrysler has a reputation for below-average quality (perhaps undeservedly so) and rumors of a pending bankruptcy certainly aren’t helping sales. Not to mention that Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealers no longer have a lease program to speak of.

In other words, it’s tough to be Dodge right now. As much as we like the Tundra, we hope that Dodge makes it through the next 18 months. Auto industry analysts say that car sales will recover in 2010 (or so), so Dodge should get back to profitability by then.

One more note about the new 09 Ram – when Nissan launches the new “Titan” next year (which will basically be a copy of a Dodge Ram), what will they change? What improvements/additions will they make? Anyone want to venture a guess?

Ford’s New F150 SFE Package Just Clever Marketing

Ford Motor Company recently announced an “SFE” – or “Superior Fuel Economy” – package for the upcoming 2009 F150. While Ford touts this package as evidence of their commitment to “unsurpassed fuel economy,” we think this package is more of a marketing ploy than a true product for fuel misers. Here are the details:

Ford’s new 2009 F150 “SFE package” is more about marketing than any real changes over a standard F150.

Toyota Tundra Rated Best Deal For September 08

Intellichoice, a company dedicated to providing vehicle ownership cost estimates and value analysis, provides a monthly “Best Deal” list for new car buyers.

For September 2008, the Toyota Tundra is a listed as the best deal in the 1/2 ton, 2wd category. Were it not for the fact that Lincoln is giving away the discontinued Mark LT, the Tundra might be the best deal overall in 1/2 ton trucks.

Intellichoice’s “Best Deal” designation is determined by current car prices, market conditions and the lowest national manufacturer consumer new car rebate. In addition, uses the latest information from numerous automotive resources to evaluate what it costs to buy, own and operate each new car model-year trim line over a five-year basis.

So in other words, the Tundra is the best deal not only because of rebates, but because it’s expected to be the lowest cost 1/2 ton truck option over the next 5 years.

Not bad.

Read the full press release.

Nissan’s New EcoPedal