Toyota is about to invest big money into its trucks.
Toyota is facing stiff competition in both the mid-size and full-size truck categories as the big three American automakers have each revealed all-new products in 2019. The second-generation Tundra is close to earning its AARP card, having been on the market since 2007, and although the third-generation Tacoma was introduced more recently in 2016, its powertrains feel outdated compared to rivals like the Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, and Jeep Gladiator.
Both trucks are in need of a major redesign, and thankfully there are signs they may receive it. According to the San Antonio Express-News, Toyota is planning a $398 million upgrade to the plant where the Tacoma and Tundra are built. That means Toyota could offer major improvements to its truck lineup as early as 2021.
Toyota has already revealed the 2020 model-year changes for the Tacoma and Tundra, and the biggest improvement is the long-awaited addition of Android Auto. But as Toyota looks to introduce new models for 2021, the Japanese automaker has requested a 10-year, 80% tax abatement for investment in its Texas plant. Luisa Casso, a spokeswoman for the plant, said a final decision on the investment will be made in late July or early August. No jobs will be added as part of the investment, but additional robotics will improve the plant's capacities.
The plant currently produces the Tacoma and Tundra in sequence, even though the two trucks do not share a platform. Toyota is working on a new global truck platform to underpin the next generations of both trucks as well as the European-market Hilux, which should make all three easier to produce.
The details regarding the next-generation trucks are limited, but they could be introduced for the 2021 model year. The Tundra is rumored to ditch its 5.7-liter V8 in favor of a 3.5-liter V6 mated to a hybrid drivetrain, which would drastically improve fuel efficiency. Either way, given how both of Toyota's US market trucks are in need of a refresh, 2021 can't seem to come soon enough.