LOS ANGELES -- For all their gains along the coasts over the past half century, Japanese automakers haven't been able to exert their dominance across the vast middle of America, from the Midwest and Plains to the heart of Texas. And the market for pickup trucks has been even more elusive.
With its move to Texas, Toyota is not only planting its flag in deep in the heartland but also announcing itself to the epicenter of the pickup market.
Texas is the second most populous state in the nation, with eight of the 15 fastest growing cities in the United States, according to Census Bureau figures. It's also the nation's second-largest light-vehicle retail market, with 1.2 million units sold in 2013, according to Polk data from IHS Automotive. Only California sells more, at 1.5 million units last year.
But when it comes to pickups, Texas is second to none. Indeed, more pickups are sold just in the Dallas and Houston areas than in any other state, including No. 2 California, according to Polk data. One of every six pickups sold nationally is sold in Texas.