Sequoia Rumored To Be On Life Support

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Yesterday, reported that the Sequoia will probably be cancelled at the end of the current model’s cycle. Intrigued, we made some calls and spoke to a few people who have been in the know in the past. While they agree that cancelling the Sequoia is both logical and probable, our Toyota sources say that this decision has yet to be made.

The reason? The Sequoia retains a significant chunk of the market – anywhere from 20-30%. Our sources say that Toyota is reluctant to walk away from any segment where they have a decent performer. You can see the numbers below for more info.

2007 Sales 07′ Market Share 2008 Sales 08′ Market Share 2009 Sales 09′ Market Share
Ford 8.96% 5.85% 11.68%
… Expedition 7516 6.87% 3833 4.55% 5556 8.88%
… Navigator 2291 2.09% 1097 1.30% 1758 2.81%
GM 29.66% 30.02% 36.03%
… Chevy Tahoe 11351 10.37% 6417 7.62% 9283 14.83%
… Chevy Suburban 6773 6.19% 6055 7.19% 4705 7.52%
… GMC Yukon 5162 4.72% 4401 5.22% 3338 5.33%
… GMC Yukon XL 3683 3.36% 3796 4.51% 1953 3.12%
… Cadillac Escalade 5495 5.02% 4620 5.48% 3275 5.23%
Nissan: 40.12% 27.70% 26.11%
… Armada 31632 28.90% 15685 18.62% 9903 15.82%
… Infiniti QX56 12288 11.23% 7657 9.09% 6440 10.29%
Toyota: Sequoia 23273 21.26% 30693 36.43% 16387 26.18%
TOTAL: 109464

NOTE: These numbers are intended to represent vehicles similar to the Sequoia in terms of potential customers. Obviously, the ‘XL’ models from GM and Ford are more capable, the Escalade is more luxurious, etc. If these aren’t included in the comparison, the Sequoia’s strength in the marketplace is even more obvious.

Sales Figures Aren’t The Whole Story

The Sequoia, it seems, has three enemies at Toyota.

  1. Execs are concerned that the full-size SUV segment may disappear or become unprofitable. New fuel economy regs will make full-size SUVs even more expensive than they are now, and it’s thought that most consumers will walk away from the segment if prices continue to climb.
  2. Design and development profits are hard to recover on low-volume vehicles. While the Sequoia will likely share many parts and a platform with the next-gen Tundra, there are still a lot of costs involved in creating the SUV. There is concern that those costs can’t be earned back.
  3. Japan doesn’t get it. Despite recent public assurances from Akio Toyoda, it seems that Japanese execs are still calling most of the shots. As a result, there’s a fundamental disconnect between Toyota’s decision makers and the people making the case for the Sequoia.

Based on our conversations, it seems clear that the Sequoia is definitely being considered for elimination. However, our sources stressed that this decision isn’t final. So, rather than saying the Sequoia is going to be cancelled, we’ll say that it’s on life support.

Filed Under: Auto News


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  1. Mike says:

    It will be killed.

  2. TXTee says:

    In all honesty, the 4Runner seems to be doing well enough that I can see the Sequoia going away. Toyota stealership has been trying to get me to sell back my Highlander due to low mileage and it’s in great condition. The market isn’t really trending for the Sequoia from what I see, regardless of numbers. It’s just too big.

  3. Mickey says:

    And I guess you do, eh Hexmate. Where’s your proof?

  4. tmac says:

    queermate’s in the know bro, didntcha know ??

  5. tmac says:

    whoops typo….

  6. mk says:

    Not a big SUV fan, but the numbers seem to indicate the sequoia sells really well if you compare it just to ford sales and chevy alone sales and outsells them easily. I would scrap the Highlander since in my opinion the RAV4 is just as capable as the Highlander with the same 3.5L V6 engine although stock suspension is a bit lacking, the interior room and dimensions are very similar at well over 5 grand less. Toyota should make 1 SUV with the V6 and only one with the 5.7L V8. NO need for RAV4, highlander, 4runner, and sequoia if you ask me, but then again no one ever asks me and no one listens to me including Yota. Build me the darn truck I want which is a crew max 6 1/2′ bed length – the ideal work and family truck and ONLY about 10″ longer than my double cab tundra now and still fits in my standard garage.

  7. Danny says:

    Fuel prices will be the determining factor again.
    Maybe it’s a “get out while the gettin’s good” mentality?
    I like the Sequoia but its too big in my opinion. The trend seems to continue with smaller suv’s and crossover type vehicles with better mpg. I remember a blog Jason did about the Nissan Titan and how many would have to be sold to be profitable. I wonder what that magic number is for the Sequoia. Equally questionable is Honda’s decision to discontinue the gas version of the Civic and only offer it in a Hybrid. Might be a good gamble but then again, it might not be.

  8. Brian J says:

    Sequoia is a sexy best IMO…both first and second gen. Will be sad to see it go, but Sienna can fill the people hauler need, just not the towing need.

  9. Brian J says:

    oops…meant beast

  10. Danny says:

    Brian J.
    It probably is the “best” beast out there.

  11. TXTee says:

    I don’t even see the Sequoia as people hauler. A bunch of coworkers used to pile up for lunch so we decided to use a Sequoia. We still sruggled to fit normal adults and even used the 3rd row seating (1st gen). Overall, just a bulky SUV that consumes way too much gas for the average family vehicle. Of the 4 SUVS, it should go. A lot of people love the size of RAV4, Highlander is a comfortable mix, and 4Runner is more than capable in many ways.

  12. Danny says:

    My brother has a Highlander and it’s more than capable to carry the wife, kids and all their toys. He wanted a Sequoia but he couldnt justify the expense and lower mpg. He’ll probably get a 4runner next.

  13. mk says:

    My neighbors have a newer Highlander and compared to my 2007 RAV4 V6 I had, there was not much difference in terms of size vs. a much higher price to pay. Pointless if you ask me to have both and I’m sure one or the other, probably highlander, should be gone. You don’t want Toyota becoming GM with several divisions making the same exact product on the same platform, only cosmetic changes. That is a big reason on why GM tanked.

  14. Jason says:

    TXTee – I think that’s part of Toyota’s thinking. Too many SUVs + tough fuel economy rules = something gets cancelled. Having said that, it’s hard to see how Toyota could justify walking away from a profitable segment. As I said, the article is likely correct – but the decision hasn’t been made. I think that a shift in the marketplace – like seeing Ford cancel the Exped – could keep the Sequoia alive. Ford and Toyota are cross-shopped pretty hard…

    Mickey and tmac – Hexmate is a troll. He has been banned, he knows it, and every comment he leaves is deleted. Feel free to respond to his nonsense if you wish, but know that it’s going bye-bye as soon as I see it.

    mk – You make a good point about too many SUVs. That is precisely the conversation that’s being had. As for the Highlander going away? I doubt it. They sell strong, and the Highlander is the sister to Lexus’s best-selling SUV. That line is very profitable I think.

    Danny – I think that fuel is a big part of the equation, but I’ve never been convinced that someone makes a decision to buy a $45-$55k SUV on the basis of fuel economy. With a car payment of $750-$1000 a month, who’s worried about an extra $200 for gas? LOL.

    Seriously, I think that you’re right. Toyota’s Japanese decision makers probably believe gas prices dictate this segment. The minimum volume for profit is supposed to be around 25k units…anything less better be very expensive or it won’t make a dime. Considering Ford’s Exped sales numbers, that’s the direction I would be looking in if I were Toyota. If Ford kills the Exped, the Sequoia only competes with Nissan and GM. I think Toyota could do well in that situation.

    Brian J – I’m a fan for sure – nice SUV.

    TXTee – Interesting. I think you’ve hit on one of the complaints about the current model. As nice as it is, the Sienna is a much better family vehicle. If it weren’t for the towing and off-road capabilities of the Sequoia, there’s really no reason for the thing to exist. Still, 16k+ people bought one last year, so it’s clear that there’s some sort of demand.

    mk – You make a good case for killing the Highlander for sure.

  15. TXTee says:

    I haven’t checked out the RAV4 much, but if it’s nearly the same size as the Highlander, I can see Toyota keeping them both to help balance their overall fuel economy ratings. The fuel economy rules are going to drive this decision more than anything, even if there is more than reasonable demand for Sequoia. They are not going to drop the Tundra which has the same engine as the Sequoia – and only have Tacoma as the sole truck offering. They have put a lot of work into the 4Runner and have a loyal customer base – it’s THE Toyota SUV most known and respected over the years. As Jason commented, the Highlander is the sister to the RX – and some people are not going to pay the RX price when they can grab the Highlander. Time will tell! I don’t hate the Sequoia for any reason but I just don’t see it as the most viable long-term option.

  16. Jason says:

    TXTee – That’s a great point – fuel economy rules really are important. The RX/Highlander makes sense in my mind because there are so many people willing to pay a lot for the RX…it means that a Highlander is profitable no matter how many Toyota sells. The RX pays all the bills on that model (at least that’s my guess).

  17. Don says:

    Just found out about this (better late then never..).. I have a 2005 and love it. Best vehicle I have ever owned.. That said I would not by a new one. Too big.. The older style was just the right size. Fit in my garage with out issues. When I was buying it, wanted something bigger than the Highlander/4 runner & seated 8. The Suburban was too big, felt like driving a ship. Same is true with new version of sequoia. By making it as large as the chevy offerings they blew the sweet spot it had owned.. Plus the styling is just awful compared to the previous gen..

  18. Jason (Admin) says:

    Don – You’re not the first person to argue that the Sequoia has gotten too big, and I think there are a lot of people who feel the same way. If the Sequoia survives it will not be based on the Tundra chassis, so it will be interesting to see if Toyota does indeed shrink it.

    BTW, I’m hearing that the Expedition might not survive either. If Ford drops the Exped, I think the Sequoia’s future is a lot brighter.

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