Toyota Tundra Chief Mike Sweers – Hay Farmer Press Release

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Toyota has released a press release highlighting Mike Sweers roots and the development process behind the Tundra. Saying that they “paid attention to every detail” makes us wonder if this release is in response to the 2014 reviews suggesting Toyota ran out of money to make changes.

Toyota Tundra Chief Mike Sweers - Press Release

Chief Engineer Mike Sweers and the 2014 Toyota Tundra.

As our audience is one to want every single detail, here is the press release in full detail:

On farms throughout America, pickup trucks are like a member of the family.  Mike Sweers is living the dream of every kid who was raised in farm country: He gets paid to create trucks.  Sweers, who still runs an active hay farm in Northern Michigan, has used his mechanical engineering degree, and life experiences as a farmer, to aid him as the chief engineer of Toyota pickup trucks; especially the development of the new 2014 Tundra full-size pickup.

“I have a Tundra Double Cab with an eight-foot long bed that I use on the farm all the time,” Sweers said.   “We raise hay, make maple syrup, and we have some dairy cattle that my kids show at fairs.  I use the truck as a truck, which means it’s had a rough life in a short period of time.  Daily hard driving of the truck allowed the farm to become a personal proving ground for my own development research on the new Tundra.”

Development of the new Tundra, which began in the summer of 2010, was the result of great teamwork from TTC engineering, Calty designers and the team members at TMMTX. Sweers and his engineering team worked closely with Calty Design Research, Inc., President Kevin Hunter and his design teams at Toyota’s design centers in Newport Beach, Calif., and Ann Arbor, Mich.  Engineering discussions began early at the sketch level as they strived for a bold exterior design from the very start.  As sketches were modified, the use of computer-aided-design (CAD) enabled the team to check the early designs’ stamping feasibility on the fly, a process that was much quicker than in the past.

Sweers and his team also had a vision where each Tundra grade would be unique.  Research showed customers want their trucks to look different and reflect their individuality. They want people to recognize they are driving something special when they see them in a Tundra Platinum or the new 1794 Edition.

The final design resulted in a powerful exterior to embody the Tundra’s performance capabilities.  The front design featured a bold front end with a higher hood line that is integrated into the grille for a chiseled and modern industrial image.

“With the chiseled styling and bold appearance on the front end, it delivers the message of Tundra’s capability and announces that we are a truck to be reckoned with in the industry,” Sweers pronounced.

Sweers’ own experiences with damaged bumpers on the farm led to the design of three-piece front- and rear-lower bumpers, allowing for lower replacement costs.  Fenders and wheel wells have been squared-off for a wide and sturdy stance.  A new bed and tail gate has an integrated spoiler and “TUNDRA” stamped into the sheet metal, creating a one-piece forged look.  The redesigned tail lamps express a tool-like quality to match the appearance of the body.

“Our goal was to make a truck that is more traditional, more chiseled and emphasizes the outstanding power and performance of the truck,” Sweers said.  “The final product is actually very close to the original sketch.  It is a very polarizing design, and one that I would want!”

Sweers was previously the vice president of interiors at Toyota Technical Center (TTC) in Ann Arbor, which was a big advantage in developing the new, refined interior. Calty worked closely with his engineering team and Product Planners to come up with the design for the new Tundra interior.  Key design elements of the new interior include a new front dash with a center stack that was moved 2.6 inches closer to the driver, putting all controls within easy reach.  The slide and recline of the rear seat on the CrewMax grade now folds up, catering to customer demands for additional interior storage space.  Refinement was a top priority as all Tundra grades were designed with newly structured seats and premium leathers and fabrics for more comfort and eye appeal.

“With the interior, we wanted to go after a refined look and feel to complement the bold exterior design,” Sweers said.  “We really focused on craftsmanship and premium interior materials, looking at colors and grains and textures.

“We also added technologies our customers would appreciate, such as our updated Entune Audio system, with a larger touch screen, a standard backup camera, and the first full-size truck with a Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Traffic alert.” Sweers added.  My goal was to show the true quality of the truck and raise the bar for refinement in the segment.”

Once the design was complete, Sweers recruited the help of 30 of the best and brightest team members from the manufacturing home of the Tundra, Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas (TMMTX), in San Antonio.  The 30 team members were brought up to TTC Ann Arbor for two months to help the Product Engineering team hand build the first test units.

“Having the help of the 30 team members from TMMTX was invaluable to the entire project,” Sweers commented.  “It helped us realize what we needed to change from an engineering standpoint, but it was also a benefit to TMMTX as it assisted them in determining what they may need to change on the production line.”

The full-size pickup truck segment is arguably the most competitive in the automotive industry.  To be the best truck in the segment, you have to know what makes the competition so good. Early in the development of the new Tundra, Sweers and his team dissected all competitors’ trucks.  They looked at every nut and bolt.  How the competitors put their trucks together, and how they marketed their trucks.  Sweers and his team looked at their specifications and grade packages, and even their price points.

“Our goal is to make the best truck in the industry,” Sweers pronounced.  “We tried to pay attention to every detail, no matter how big or small, because it’s the details that really help sell a truck. I think from a drivability standpoint, and from where our competitors have gone, I think we may be a little bit better.”

“I feel the new Tundra reflects the future of where trucks are going.  The new styling really emphasizes how bold and capable our truck actually is.  The fact we’ve had the most reliable truck seven of the past eight years according to J.D. Power and Associates, is not by accident. It’s by design.”

If the successful development process of the new 2014 Tundra provides any indication, Toyota’s redesigned full-size pickup will be making a lot of “hay” in the truck market.

Toyota Tundra Chief Mike Sweers

This is probably the best picture of the 1794 we have ever seen.

This press release is pretty interesting considering that and Autoguide, AutoBlog among others have suggested that Toyota didn’t make many improvements due to the production plant building “fiasco” and natural disasters that slowed development.

The problem with the above reviews is that they are treating Toyota like Subaru (a small automaker that can’t afford to make a large investment). Umm… hello? Toyota is the largest automaker in the world and you think they are out of money to invest in a profitable vehicle. Absurd. Toyota is making a calculated judgment on what it thinks customers want and how best to continue to grow in the segment. Hmm… seems pretty smart to us.

What do you think? Is the timing a bit suspect to you? And what is with the attention being cast on Mike Sweers? Can you name the Ford/GM/Ram Chief Engineer?

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  1. LJC says:

    Well two questions that he or Toyota will need to answer are the following:
    1) Where is the integrated brake controller?
    Perhaps it didn’t make into the pre-release Tundra
    2) Why no eLocker? It’s the only pickup truck on the road without a factory eLocker.

    Now, it is clear the other of the Tundra’s shortcomings have been addressed, like interior looks and ride. Personally, these two items don’t bother me a bit.

    Also, making large changes at a generation change can have a negative effect on reliability. Ford, GM, and RAM are classic examples. With that said, it makes sense to me to make smaller, incremental changes.

    I think the reasons for the relentless “pot shots” at the Tundra are simple. The pickup truck is seen as a U.S.A creation and a foreign owned company creating vehicle that can compete with our “domestic” auto manufacturers is seen as a threat. Ever see anybody lash out at the Titan?

    And no, I have no idea who the chief engineers are at Ford, GM, or RAM.

    As for the attention cast on Mike Sweers: I think the reason for this is to show that the U.S. Toyota division is solely developing the Tundra; this was not the case with the previous generations.

  2. Brian J says:

    I am going to call BS on Sweers. If you paid attention to the details I would be able to get a 6.5 foot bed with the crewmax and would be able to get at least 18mpg combined albeit at the sacrifice of some towing capability. I think they did just enough to keep the Tundra alive going forward, and they certainly emphasized the premium trucks. They did not spend enough money or time increasing capability of the truck. I want a big crew cab with a big bed so that I can take my family camping, put our gear in the bed without sacrificing space, and still tow a 7000lb camper on a conventional hitch. I guess I have to wait another 7 years for the possibility that Toyota will make the changes I want to see. At least this is America, and there is competition. You can find trucks with the above capabilities, just not at your local Toyota dealer.

    • Mickey says:

      I hate to be a bearer of bad news but the CM is a minority and you don’t have that many people want that bigger bed on a CrewMax. It wouldn’t fit in any garage. I prefer to have my vehicles in the garage.

      • Brian J says:

        The crewmax accounts for 46% of total Tundra sales…hardly a minority. The bottom line of the point I am making is that Toyota has failed to offer a competitive truck to other manufacturers. Whether or not it fits in your garage is a separate matter altogether.

      • mk says:

        Mickey, you are totally wrong my garage is 24′ deep which is a normal sized garage I do believe. Adding another 10″ to 12″ tops to get a 6 1/2′ bed in a crewmax is NOTHING and will fit into most std. garages. It would even fit in a 22′ long garage but not much room to spare.

        I believe it would sell more than the crewmax shortbed anyday of the week.

        • Larry says:

          Wow, put the truck in a garage, how is that possible?

          I have 2 cars, 1 truck, 6 boats, 4 bicycles, 1 motorcycle, 1 boat trailer, 2 snow throwers, 2 tents, all kind or river running/camping stuff, rescue gear, 5 fly rods etc, etc. Then there is my supply of select hardwoods and plywood, 1 welder, 1 air compressor, plumbing supplies, electrical supplies, mountains of power tools and hand tools. If I didn’t have all this stuff I would be driving 150,000 miles a year going to Home Depot every 5 minutes.

          How could anyone live in the mountains and float rivers without all this stuff?

          The modern day 2500 sq foot house and 2 car garage is almost completely worthless. I need a smaller house and barn/shop for the important stuff.

          My wife demands that her car fit in the garaged so after half of the above gets stuffed in the other half of the garbage, I couldn’t even get the front bumper of the truck into the garaged.

          My truck and car get parked outside where they gets covered in snow for 9 months each year.

          I need more money and a 10 car garage, make that 12. This is what happens when you retire so, you have been warned. In retirement my life is being upsized not downsized.

          How do any of you actually manage to get a truck into the garaged? Where does all the other stuff go?

        • Tim Esterdahl says:


          I can barely fit the smaller bed in my garage. In fact, I have to hit the drywall on one end to get the door to close.


          • mk says:

            I guess garages have shrunk and std. size now is not 20×24′ deep like mine is??? Are garages really only 20′ deep is all for newer homes? Seems to me someone needs to plan ahead of time to at least have a 20×24′ normal sized garage? I can fit my tundra, a mid sized hyundai santa fe, 2×4′ standing on floor tool holder, 2 kayaks, snowblower or lawn mower, 5′ long snowplow blade for my ATV, and a 250cc scooter and goldwing all inside my std. garage. Granted with all that inside, it is very tight, but no problems hitting anything ever in 20 years now.

          • Tim Esterdahl says:

            My home was built in 1982, so I’m not sure it is “newer.” LOL!


  3. tonyspin says:

    The development money went into trucks that will make Toyota money, the Platinum and the 1794. That is fine but I hope next time they put the money into things “Truck Guys” want. Some of the things I would like to see are a true limited slip, a locker, larger fuel tank, and a 6.2 liter based on the 5.7 with an 8spd tranny. If they want to play with the big boys, they will eventually need to have a HD version with a diesel.

    • Rick says:

      I agree! What many out there don’t realize is that the Tundra has many HD parts on it that are found in 3/4 and one ton trucks such as its massive 10.5″ rear, engine/transmission oil coolers and huge brakes to mention but three.

  4. Mickey says:

    It maybe suspect. Since you still have to do the interview and it’s after the bashing Toyota received from Autoguide,autoblog. Most who reply on here want something different and Toyota isn’t ready for that commitment. I still have to see a new one and the 1794 edition to make up my mind.

  5. Larry says:

    As for as full size trucks go, Toyota Tundra is still the low end of the sales volume.

    I have a feeling that all the items people are looking for are in the works. Tundra in it’s current form is still my first choice over GM, Ford and RAM even with their newer trucks.

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      I have the same feeling.


    • mendonsy says:

      I agree about Tundra being the choice of the “big three” BUT there’s not enough in the ’14 to convince me to give up my ’07.
      The new dash looks nice, the sheet metal changes are questionable, and there’s been stuff deleted since ’10 that was on the ’07-’09 models. (example: delayed off power outlets)

    • LJC says:

      That’s not true. That would be the GMC Sierra 1/2 ton, no wait, that would be the Titan.

  6. toyrulz says:

    First – I recently moved from 2004 DoubleCab to 2011 Crewmax, tow a 27′ Starcraft AutumnRidge RV (say 7500lbs loaded) with family of 4 and its fixings.

    2004 had a LSD (my first after 3 Toyota trucks with Opens) and a 6.2′ box.

    Where the added length of old over 5.5′ would be good for those hauling trailers (tailgate must be up) while carrying a quad or dirtbikes in the box – I don’t and am only about 1cu.ft down on volume due to added height and width of the 2011.

    My rule is it has to fit under the tonneaux cover or it stays as I carry firewood camping and don’t like it wet. Last outing was longest with Crewmax yet at 6 days and I had firewood for nightly campfires, a huge cooler, two adult bikes and two kids bikes, and 4 camp chairs in the box with some room to spare (all under the closed cover).

    I have yet to miss the LSD as when traction is needed I select 4wd anyway. Toyota correctly claims that Open Differentials are more reliable and durable and that there AutoLSD fills most of the gap but requires a button be pressed.

    I am obviously a little tired of hearing the b!tching about these things – yes a longer box on CrewMax and a LSD or e-locker may make a perfect truck for some, but they are the vocal minority. There are aftermarket solutions for these and other special needs.

    Toyota has proven that they weigh the effects to QRD and the cost of changes to provide great long term value with a competive price (for what you truly get).

    I don’t want my next Tundra to be more expensive or less reliable. I also do not want a longer truck to park. My buddy has similar use/needs as me and he went DoubleCab for the longer box – but he had 2 reasons I didn’t (he more often hauls long building supplies and needed the front bench seat for Family of 6). Our Families camp/RV together and he does no better than I with his added foot of box.

  7. LJC says:

    The Tundra needs more options in order to be more competitive. One reason why the F150 is so successful is the ability for a buyer to order it just the way he/she wants it.

    By the way, a selectable eLocker is very reliable and with it one gets the best of both worlds (open diff and locker). There’s no reason why this couldn’t be an option. As a matter of fact, it’s only $395 for a GM truck (pre-2014).

    • Tim Esterdahl says:


      As you have seen with today’s post about expanding production and options, I think Toyota agrees with you and is at the very least discussing ways to do it. Whether it comes to fruition or not is another matter.


    • toyrulz says:

      LJC – don’t get me wrong, I would love to have all the boxes to check or leave blank over having to pick from a handfull of packages (in Canada, we can’t even get the V6 – among many other things). It sucks when only way to get some things is to move up to Platinum and get all the other stuff that is in the Platinum package. Inversely, my buddy needed his front bench seat for 3 in his DoubleCab so had to get Base model stripper.

      I’m just saying its easier for the “big 3” to do because they have the volume – if only 10% want elockers, that is what – about 60000 F150s versus and only 10000 Tundras.

      Chicken and the egg – Toyota shook the pick up segment with release of 2007, and they learned that youi can lead a horse to ice cold Perrier and they will often prefer the mud their Dads drank.

      I think they are now looking to proceed with caution and build sales volume slowly without sacrificing what has worked so far. They are probably looking at ways to bring some of the options online economically and maybe an elocker will be one if it can be done with QRD and sell enough to justify it. Maybe it can be like the few uptions we have in Canada where they are Dealer installed parts (like TRD stuff and block heaters) rather than equiped at that factory.

      I remember years ago when mother-in-law bought a Corolla and AC was dealer installed.

      • Tim Esterdahl says:

        Don’t forget that GM and Ford both have 3 truck plants. Toyota has one that is sharing production. Once Toyota increases capacity, I think things will change.


  8. toyrulz says:

    I was also thinking I rather not risk Tundra flopping to Titan’s spot for sake of poorly executed features that lack typical QRD – then I was thinking – how many options and features like elockers does Titan have. Would Toyota still make Tundra if sales were as low as titans? No – their not that desperate.

  9. […] is some more stuff, Toyota Tundra Chief Mike Sweers – 2014 Tundra Development Process | Tundra Headquarters Blog and this is just for Rrzxter "The slide and recline of the rear seat on the CrewMax grade […]

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