DALLAS -- Toyota's expansion of Toyota Racing Development trims across its truck line opens the door for a sporty subbrand that could find its way onto higher-volume products such as the RAV4 and Camry as the automaker chases younger and more affluent buyers.
TRD's U.S. unit, which started as a performance parts distributor in 1979, has been associated with different parts of the business: professional racing, one-off truck trims, Scions with aftermarket springs and louder exhausts.
In the past few years, it has gelled around the truck division, with factory TRD packages for the body-on-frame Tacoma midsize pickup, the full-size Tundra, and the 4Runner and Sequoia SUVs.
But that doesn't mean its sporty DNA has to be limited to trucks.
"There are some other vehicles that we will consider," Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, told Automotive News. "I'm not sure exactly where yet, but we are active in NASCAR, we're racing in the Sprint Cup Series, and we've had a heavy TRD influence on that with our Camry that we race. So there might be the ability to do some of this on the car side."
The upside to the TRD name so far is its appeal to younger, more affluent, better-educated male buyers, who constitute a compelling demographic, Fay said. That's particularly true with the top-shelf TRD Pro off-road trim available on the Tacoma, Tundra and 4Runner.
"If you just look at TRD Pro, it's probably less than 1 percent of our sales, but they represent a significantly larger amount of Internet traffic and vehicle configurations once customers continue to Toyota.com," Fay said.
Potentially, some of that demographic wealth could be shared with the car side, especially now that the youth-oriented Scion division has been discontinued.