Toyota is mulling plan to hike pickup production capacity

Article by Anita Panait, on December 17, 2013

Toyota is planning to increase the pickup production capacity at its San Antonio site, as dealers ask for more of the trucks. Toyota Division General Manager Bill Fay remarked that dealers are telling them that they could sell more Toyota Tacomas and Tundras, leading the carmaker to evaluate their footprint and capacity.

He said that the site has the capacity to build 250,000 Tundra full-sized and Tacoma compact pickups by running two shifts plus overtime and Saturdays. Toyota's Tijuana knockdown assembly plant in Mexico can produce another 50,000 Tacomas, but most of the output are marketed to Mexico and Canada.

He added that by tweaking the assembly lines, each plant could further build 7,000 units. However, the combined output with the tweaks might still not be enough as Toyota recently launched a redesigned Tundra last summer.

While the powertrains were carried over, interior was improved, content were added, and the suspension was retuned. The tweaks allowed Toyota to post a 14-percent jump in combined sales of the Tundra and Tacoma in the US in the first 11 months of 2013, to 248,468 units. Fay has expected Toyota to sell 137,000 Tundras in 2014.

If Tacoma sales remain flat in 2014, combined pickup sales would still be more than the output of the San Antonio and Tijuana sites for the US. The fast recovery in pickup sales has caught Toyota by surprise, as it only expected the overall US pickup market to be around 1.7 million units this year.

However, the segment is now seen to finish 2013 at 1.9 million vehicles. Toyota, however, is wary of making heavy investment to expand the capacity of its sites, no thanks to what it experienced years ago when the pickup market suddenly dropped from 2.5 million to 1.1 million.

Topics: toyota, plan, production

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