NEW YORK -- Three months into the launch of its redesigned Tundra, Toyota is scrambling to revamp its model mix and make a series of other fixes on the run.
Toyota executives admit they have made missteps in their first venture into the full-sized pickup fray.
"As we try to go from 5 percent share to 10 percent segment share, we are learning the hard way," Jim Farley, Toyota Division vice president of marketing, said at the New York auto show.
Toyota is selling more CrewMax units than it can supply. Demand for the top-dog 5.7-liter V-8 also is outstripping supply. And Toyota is cutting production of standard-cab models because it is selling fewer than expected.
But a lot has gone right since the Tundra's launch in February. The company sold 13,196 Tundras in March, 12 percent above sales of the old Tundra in March 2006. Based on availability and inventories, Toyota says that it's on the right track, and that the Tundra will be selling at its planned 200,000 annual pace by summer.
But in studying its miscalculations, Toyota is noticing some intriguing trends.
The extended-cab versions represent 40 percent of sales, as planned. But the CrewMax has proved more popular than expected, said Ernest Bastien, Toyota's vice president of vehicle operations. That presents a supply problem.
The production ramp-up calls for Toyota's Princeton, Ind., plant to build the CrewMax, while the new San Antonio plant gets its feet wet with the standard-cab and extended-cab versions. San Antonio won't build the CrewMax until August.
"We didn't come to the prizefight with all our tools," Bastien said.
And by engaging in the "bar stool debate" with its 5.7-liter V-8, Toyota has sparked more demand for that engine than expected.
"The 5.7 has been 70 to 80 percent of our mix, and we thought it would be 50 or 60 percent," Farley said. "The 4.7 (V-8) and V-6 are not as popular."
On the flip side, the basic two-door model has missed its sales goals, even though it was expected to account for only 10 percent of the mix. Typical basic-truck buyers don't want a lot of extras, even when extras are rolled into the basic sticker price.
The regular cab Tundra starts at $22,935, including shipping. Chevrolet's new Silverado pickup starts at $18,760, with shipping.