DETROIT – A topofficial doesn’t expect updated competitors to take a bite out of Tundra and Tacoma pickup sales this year.
The No.1 Japanese automaker will “sustain” 2013’s sales levels of the two models this year and next, Bob Carter, senior vice president-automotive operations forMotor Sales U.S.A., says here in an interview.
Toyota is facing new rivals not only in the fullsize-pickup segment, with’ redesigned ’14 Chevrolet Silverado, GMC Sierra, and ’s ’15, aluminum-intensive F-150, but also in the previously moribund compact pickup group with GM’s Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon.
Toyota refreshed the 7-year-old Tundra for ’14, which it credits for a 10.9% increase in sales in 2013, to 112,732 units.
GM andare behemoths in the sector, with 480,414 Silverados and 184,389 Sierras delivered last year, and Ford again topping all new vehicles sold in the U.S. with 763,402 F-Series.
Nonetheless, Carter says that, thanks to one of the healthiest fullsize truck markets in years, Toyota can hold its own as a smaller player in the group.
“The (volume of the U.S.) fullsize-truck market back in 2006 was 2.5 million,” he says. “When the recession hit, (it fell to) 1.2 million.
“We don’t see it going back to 2.5 million, but we do see it going back to 1.8 million-1.9 million.”
Toyota is maxed out on capacity for both the Tundra and the smaller Tacoma.
Last July, another Toyota U.S. executive told WardsAuto the automaker was considering expanding capacity for the models at its San Antonio and Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico, plants.
“We’re still able to do some things with (added shifts/overtime), but as we go forward we’re going to have to look at the footprint, investments in labor (and) maybe…make some investments in San Antonio and/or Baja to add some more capacity,” said Toyota Group Vice President Bill Fay.
Carter also isn’t fazed by newer competition for the Tacoma.
“Competition is a good thing. It expands markets,” he says.
The compact-pickup segment should be interesting to watch, Carter believes, as compact cars and compact CUVs have been two of the hottest U.S. segments in recent years.
“Compact (everything) is where the action is, (but) we haven’t seen that in the truck market.”