CHICAGO - How does a company tackle it's third effort to get the big-pickup formula right?
Ask the people who use them -- for work, not just for a weekend jaunt to Home Depot.
That's where it found what it calls true truckers -- working men and women who depend on trucks for their livelihood. Toyota market research shows these true truckers account for one-quarter of all full-sized pickup sales.
"But their importance goes beyond their purchasing power," Jim Lentz, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Division, said at the Chicago Auto Show.
Mark Schrage, Tundra executive program manager, is a native of Missoula, Mont., where pickups are a way of life.
He and other Toyota product planners visited a remote logging camp near Glacier National Park. They learned there that loggers need a lot of room for gear, because they could be working in the mountains for days, in all kinds of weather. Silver miners told Toyota they needed powerful air-conditioning systems that could be left on all day to protect them from extremely high temperatures.
"Construction site managers are dealing with lots of paperwork," Schrage says. So Toyota built a cavernous center console with storage space for hanging folders and laptop computers.
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