The demand for Toyota’s pickups and crossovers has been so high that the brand is introducing two additional variants and boosting its production in North America. Toyota seeks to increase its output in Mexico of its Tacoma midsize pickup and in Indiana of its Highlander midsize crossover. In addition, Toyota will add two new RAV4 crossover models so that sales will continue to climb.
Bill Fay, Toyota Division general manager, said that his wish is for “more trucks” and that already, the company is making moves towards this goal. A third shift will be launched this month at Toyota’s Tacoma plant located in Tijuana, Mexico. This marks the first three-shift schedule that Toyota has ever had in North America.
Last year, Tijuana rolled out a record-breaking 71,399 pickups but with this third shift, the plant will be able to produce nearly 110,000 Tacomas in a year. The Tacoma is also produced by Toyota’s plant in San Antonio. In 2014, Toyota posted sales of 155,041 of these pickups, a 2.8% drop from 2013. This year, a redesigned 2016 Tacoma will be offered in the market.
At the New York auto show that was held recently, a RAV4 hybrid version was unveiled. It will start selling as a 2016 model as soon as the crossover gets a fresh update. In addition, Toyota will start to sell a sport edition of the crossover to correspond to the sport versions of the Corolla and Camry.
Fay said that these new variants are expected to sustain the dealerships’ sales momentum for the RAV4, which increased by 23% last year to 267,698. Sales have risen by 26% to 67,010 through March this year. The Highlander recently had a boost in capacity in Princeton, Ind.
The Highlander is being built from one production line. To enable two of its lines to build this vehicle, it cost $30 million to do the upgrades. This move is likely to boost production by 30,000 more units this year.
Fay said that in the last couple of months, there was a “pretty big shift” to light trucks – a marked difference from two years ago. He added that this is why the changes have to be made and that Toyota has to “keep up with what the consumer wants now."