Toyota saw sales of the Tundra rising 1.6 percent through November, which might sound good until you take a look at the overall pickup sales, which were up 4.1 percent. Now Toyota has a plan to sell more Tundras and improve its position in the full-size truck segment.
The Tundra has been stuck in the segment’s fifth place, trailing offerings from Ford, GM and FCA, but still ahead of the Nissan Titan.
Toyota Motor North America executives believe that the main reason for the Tundra’s slow sales can be found in the success of the smaller Tacoma. Their plan to ramp up Tacoma production in Mexico will also free up capacity for the Tundra in Texas.
“We made some choices … of full-on capacity — what we would be able to build,” said Jack Hollis, Toyota Division general manager to Automotive News. “We made some choices as a business entity to push Tacoma. That’s the fact of the business.”
Toyota sold 224,128 examples ofthe Tacoma mid-size truck this year through November, compared to the 107,042 Tundras in the same period.
“It’s capacity. San Antonio is at maximum capacity, maximum overtime. We worked 46 Saturdays last year. We are choosing — because it’s our strength — to build a higher mix of Tacoma than Tundra,” Toyota’s US sales boss Bob Carter said. “I have no announcements today, but it’s not a great surprise if you look at the lineup, that Tundra may be in the latter stages of its life cycle. But that will change. We have a plan underway.”
The Tundra is currently the oldest full-size pickup truck sold in the US market, with the last major update received back in 2014.
“Some of the competitors are doing 700,000, 800,000, 900,000 units. If your ultimate question is, is that our plan? No. We have no aspirations, no plans to compete at that volume. Can we do better than we’re doing today? Absolutely,” Carter said. “We can do better than that, but it’s not in our plan to be running some of the fantastic volumes that Ford, Chevy and Ram are developing.”
Hollis added: “There’s clearly a demand that we can increase the amount of Tundras. Will we increase the amount of Tundras? Yes. But I will say, it will always come down to what are the consumers and dealers asking us for, and that’s what we will respond to.”