DETROIT -- Toyota Motor Corp. said on Monday it aimed to double its U.S. sales of full-size pickup trucks in three years by bringing production at its planned San Antonio, Texas plant up to full capacity by 2008.
Japan's top auto maker now sells about 100,000 to 110,000 units in the segment a year through the Tundra, and is constructing the new 120,000 units-a-year San Antonio plant to go online in late 2006.
"In 2008, we will have doubled our sales at full capacity," Yukitoshi Funo, chief executive of Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of the auto show in Detroit.
"With 230,000 units, we would have 10 percent of the full-size pickup market," he said, noting that would be close to Toyota's overall U.S. market share of 12.2 percent last year.
The high-margin pickup truck segment is considered the last bastion of profits for Detroit's traditional Big Three auto makers, which have steadily lost market share to Asian brands in recent years.
In 2004, Toyota gained a full percentage point in U.S. market share with a 10 percent sales jump to 2.06 million vehicles -- a record for the ninth straight year -- mostly at the expense of General Motors and Ford Motor Co.
While light trucks accounted for 54 percent of the total U.S. auto market last year, they made up only 47 percent of all Toyota vehicles sold. Funo said the auto maker should at least be able to match the industry ratio.
Toyota said it was also looking to continue its overall growth by rolling out six all-new or fully remodeled vehicles over the next 12 months, including a hybrid version of the Highlander sport utility vehicle (SUV) in June and a new Avalon high-end sedan, unveiled at the auto show on Monday.
The February launch of the Avalon is set to be followed by a fully remodeled Camry -- the U.S.'s best-selling car for the third straight year in 2004 -- at mid-year.
The world's second-biggest auto maker also plans to double sales of the Prius hybrid sedan to 100,000 units as it adds more capacity to meet overwhelming demand.