Toyota’s Cautious Truck Future, 2015 Toyota Tundra TRD PRO Plows New Headquarters
The future of Toyota trucks in North America is at a pretty interesting crossroads right now and breaking ground at a new Texas headquarters with a TRD PRO shines a bit spotlight on it. What does 2015 and on look like for Toyota’s truck plans? Here is what we know.
Maxed Out = No New Varities
Currently, Toyota is selling every truck they can make. While makes it sound like the market is really hot, Toyota (like GM) doesn’t see it as continuing to boom. Toyota sees the truck market as plateauing out this year and they are cautious on how they move forward. They see the mid-size segment expanding with the addition of more competition, yet they don’t seem to buy GM’s thinking that this will be new customers moving from another segment. Instead, these will be truck customers moving out of full-size and/or customers brand swapping from one mid-size maker to the other. Ultimately, slowing down the growth of the Tacoma doesn’t hurt Toyota since they will just continue to ramp up production of the Tundra.
There will be some relief soon with the Baja facility adding a third shift and, we would assume, the San Antonio plant doing the same. Each of these facilities is currently running at over capacity on the shifts they have now. Adding additional shifts should add about 10 percent more production. However, dealers and Toyota have admitted that still leaves them short of filling all the demand. Estimates we hear are they are short between 20 to 30 percent on what they offer now.
While at the 2015 North American International Auto Show, we sought out Toyota Chief Engineer Mike Sweers for his comments on the market and future power train options. While he is often limited as to what he can say, he did give us some interesting insight into their current thinking.
Sweers said the demand on both the Tundra and Tacoma is limiting the amount of varieties he can offer as well as a diesel engine.
THQ – Is there a production concern as well with offering the Tacoma in many different varieties? It seems like the San Antonio plant is maxed out.
Sweers – That is the other issue right. I’m selling every truck I can build right now. Our plant is running over 100 percent capacity. How many variations do you offer when you can’t build enough trucks as it is?
The Baja plant’s third shift is going to reduce some of that pressure. We were actually at one point, down to a nine-day supply on Tacomas. We have a balancing act between Tacomas and Tundras. It is a really good problem to have since they are both hot sellers right now. I just can’t build enough trucks.
New Plant Moratorium Over
Just before leaving for the show we found out Toyota President Akio Toyoda told reporters in Nagoya, Japan, the new plant moratorium is over.
Shortly after taking over Toyota, Akio Toyoda announced the moratorium on new plant building to reign in growth and improve quality.
“It has been nearly three years since we began talking about the three-year freeze,” Toyoda told reporters, in reference to the restriction started in April 2013.
We recently reported Toyota officials were scouting locations and this announcement means it will happen. The news report we read said they were looking at China or Mexico. Considering how awful Toyota does in China due to a variety of reasons including cultural issues, it seems like Mexico is a much better option. Also, remember, trucks built in Mexico are NOT subject to the Chicken Tax thanks to a provision in NAFTA.
Truck Plows New Headquarters
In a unique groundbreaking ceremony, Toyota used a snowplow equipped Tundra TRD PRO to break ground. Make no mistake on the significance of this. Toyota knows the importance of full-size trucks in Texas and the trucks importance to the companies bottom line.
While it was too early to tell what the new headquarters means for the Tundra and Tacoma, one thing is for sure. With company officials flying to Texas now instead of California, the conversation will likely include trucks more often. We would also expect the San Antonio plant to receive many more official visits from company executives and the entire truck lineup to be more scrutinized.
For Toyota the math is pretty simple. The one area that has the most growth possibilities and could use additional production is trucks. This moving to Texas is going to shine a pretty big spotlight on them.
Filed Under: Tundra News