Toyota hopes next Tundra picks up pace
Lentz: No details on new Tundra
LOS ANGELES -- Toyota's lofty aspirations for the Tundra were derailed by the recession. And even with the economic recovery and a redesign coming next spring, Toyota may still have trouble reaching its target for the full-sized pickup.
"We had set a 200,000-unit sales goal, and we sold 196,000 in 2007," said Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. "Then the market collapsed, and that drove things more than anything else."
For the past three years, Tundra sales have been below 100,000 units, leaving it a distant fifth place to Detroit 3 pickups. Doubling that number will be tough, although Toyota can lick its wounds with the Tacoma's 52 percent share of the compact truck segment through November.
But executives are concerned that Toyota may not be able to sell 200,000 Tundras when better times return, mostly because the full-sized pickup market may never be as large as its prerecession levels.
Overall full-sized pickup sales should be between 1.7 million and 1.8 million units this year, a sharp increase from the nadir of 1.2 million, said Bob Carter, Toyota Motor Sales' senior vice president of automotive operations. But Carter thinks the chances of the segment reaching its prerecession peak of 2.5 million units in 2005 are slim.
"As real estate comes back and construction comes back, that full-sized market is coming back," he said. "But we don't see the market going back" to the peak.
"There were a lot of recreational full-sized pickup buyers back then. Heck, I was a Tundra owner. We don't see that buyer returning," Carter said.
Carter: “Market is coming back.”
Photo credit: JOE WILSSENS
The redesigned Tundra will have plenty of new competition. The Ford F-150 just had a major midcycle upgrade and will be redesigned in the 2015 model year. The Ram 1500 was re-engineered for the 2013 model year. And the Chevrolet/GMC pickups will get redesigns around the same time as the Tundra.
The Tundra and Tacoma come off the same assembly lines at Toyota's San Antonio plant. So if the Tundra can't reach its numbers, Toyota can crank up Tacoma production instead.
Lentz declined to give details of the redesigned Tundra.
"It will be better in every way, including value," he said.
"We rarely bring out a new product thinking, 'We're going to sell less of these.'"
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