DALLAS — Through a series of delicate production adjustments, Toyota has managed to squeeze more Tacoma midsize pickups out of its plants in Texas and Mexico. But those efforts weren’t enough to fully protect the pickup’s perch atop the rapidly growing segment from an onslaught of competitors.
So last week, Toyota cracked open its checkbook for a $150 million investment at its Tijuana plant that will increase Tacoma production there to 160,000 vehicles annually in 2018 from just over 100,000 it expects to make at the plant this year.
“They probably should have done this awhile ago,” said Dave Sullivan, an analyst at consultancy AutoPacific. “It’s a really unique market because it’s not driven by fleet sales. These are real consumers paying basically MSRP for these trucks.”
Toyota acknowledged last week that it can do better in the pickup market.
“Demand for trucks has grown exponentially,” Toyota Motor North America CEO Jim Lentz said in a statement announcing the Mexico investment. “By leveraging our manufacturing facilities’ availability and expertise, we can be nimbler and better adjust to market needs in a just-in-time manner.”