You might say that Toyota was ‘The First.’Obviously, we’re not talking about the kind of groundbreaking milestone boasted primarily by ‘the Big 3’ out of Detroit, but we are talking about forcing a redistribution of market share when it comes to the domestic truck sales. Nowadays, we’d be remiss if we failed to acknowledge the growing foothold enjoyed by the likes of the Nissan Titan and even Honda Ridgeline. But while such relative upstarts do little to pose a threat to the sales advantage held by Ford (along with Chevy and RAM) Toyota finds itself in a position of precarious advantage, built primarily upon the enduring nature of the Tacoma and Tundra. Not only does their placement in sales rankings bridge the gap between time-tested domestic offerings and outside competition, but they manage to challenge GM’s standing overall. To date, 2018 sales of the Tacoma were up 23% year-to-date, and the Tundra had earned a 4% gain as well. And, if that’s not promising enough, a recent announcement making its way through current auto news seems to indicate that Toyota’s forward momentum is only continuing to pick up speed.
The Shift in Manufacturing
To-date, North American truck manufacturing was based primarily in San Antonio, TX, and Tijuana, Mexico. The former split its production hours between the segment-leading Tacoma and the Tundra, while the latter remained focused on the Tacoma. Recently, however, it was announced that the Guanajuato plant in central Mexico would no longer be solely dedicated to the production of the Corolla. In fact, the plant would be primarily focused on the Tacoma, providing Toyota will a necessary relief valve, caused by to the heavy demand for the pickup.
But the decision and the inherent redistribution of parts, staff, and training form the third apex of what is now being called Toyota’s “Truck Triangle” boosting their capacity in terms of pickup production and even creating capacity for the development of new products.
According to Mike Bafan, President of Toyota de Mexico,”The concept of the triangle is one that allows us, in a very quick and efficient way, to utilize basically exactly the same supply base and have the flexibility and agility to produce what our customers need from at least three different locations.”
And while this allows for cost savings, more efficient logistical planning, and certain economies…it, most importantly, provides long-overdue relief to the overworked San Antonio production team who has been overburdened for approximately five years now. So, if the Tacoma and Tundra weren’t already compelling enough, Toyota’s reassertion of the importance of work/life balance for their employees certainly buys the company some valuable goodwill points.
The overhaul on the Guanajuato operation is currently slated for completion in late 2019, or early 2020. That being said, it’s clear that Toyota’s playing a long game, meaning that it will be interesting to see where the Tacoma and Tundra go from here. And with the inevitable excitement surrounding the 2019 TRD Pro variants of each, it’s hard not to be excited about what’s to come. In fact, here’s a look at the TRD Pro trucks in action, courtesy of The Fast Lane Truck.
What do you think of the growing popularity of Toyota’s offerings?