Toyota signals a broader truck push

Yet Toyota’s top executives still see more opportunity for sales gains. Take pickups, for example, where previous production limitations have placed a governor on sales of both the Tacoma and Tundra. Toyota addressed the problem by building a third Tacoma plant, now ramping up in Mexico.

“That will give us some growth opportunities and give us the ability to push Tacoma a little harder,” said Bill Fay, senior vice president for operations at Toyota Motor North America. “I think that will add a little more appeal, with more shoppers and more interest in the midsize pickup.”

And that, Fay said, will allow the San Antonio plant to throttle back on the Tacoma to instead focus on the larger Tundra pickup. “It gives us a chance to push Tundra a little harder,” he said. “In the past, if we did that, we had to take it out of Tacoma, and now, we don’t have to do that.”

Key to Toyota’s light-truck push is the lift it gets from its TRD performance subbrand. More than 40 percent of combined Tacoma, Tundra, Sequoia and 4Runner sales are TRD packages, said Jack Hollis, head of the Toyota Division for Toyota Motor North America.

“On the truck side, our TRD Pro has really been stuff that we’ve been working on over the years that we’ve … continuously improved over the years to make those products better,” Hollis said. “Having a performance brand really allows us to experiment and innovate, and that’s what I get excited about, whether it’s cars or trucks. I see it lifting our brand through performance.”

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