San Antonio plant is nearly maxed out

Toyota weighs adding truck capacity

San Antonio plant is nearly maxed out

Toyota launched the redesigned 2014 Tundra last summer.
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CARMEL, Calif. -- Toyota is considering expanding pickup production capacity at its San Antonio plant.

"Dealers are telling us they could sell more Tacomas and Tundras," Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay said. "We are evaluating our footprint and capacity."

Toyota can produce a combined 250,000 Tundra full-sized and Tacoma compact pickups in San Antonio, running two shifts plus overtime and Saturdays, Fay said. Toyota's knockdown assembly plant in Tijuana, Mexico, can add another 50,000 Tacomas, but many of those trucks go to Mexico and Canada.

Assembly line tweaks could add about 7,000 units at each plant, Fay said. But that might not be enough.

Toyota launched a redesigned Tundra last summer. The powertrains were carried over, but Toyota upgraded the interior, added content and retuned the suspension.

San Antonio Spur
Toyota is considering expanding pickup production at its Texas plant as sales of the full-sized Tundra rebound from a 3-year slump.
     
 SALES  SALES
2007196,555 201182,908
2008137,249 2012101,621
200979,385 2013101,744
201093,309   
* Through November
Source: Automotive News Data Center

Through November in the United States, Toyota has sold 248,468 Tundras and Tacomas combined, a 14 percent increase from last year. Fay has predicted that Toyota could sell 137,000 Tundras in 2014, though he declined to forecast a return to the peak year of 2007, when nearly 200,000 units sold.

Even if Tacoma sales were to stay flat next year, the combined pickup sales would exceed what San Antonio and Tijuana could produce for the United States.

The quick rebound in pickup sales has caught Toyota by surprise. The automaker had expected the overall U.S. market for full-sized pickups to be about 1.7 million units this year, but the segment likely will finish at 1.9 million.

To expand the $2.2 billion San Antonio plant to keep up with growth would require a significant capital expenditure, which has Toyota wary.

"We have 2008 and 2009 fresh in our minds, when the pickup market dropped from 2.5 million to 1.1 million," Fay said at the media introduction for the Highlander crossover here. "But we also need to be flexible for three years down the road from now. What kind of production and support do we need for the second half of this decade? How much do we need to invest?"

You can reach Mark Rechtin at mrechtin@crain.com. -- Follow Mark on Twitter


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