Toyota Tundra Sales Are Slow For One Reason

Trucks / 7 Comments

And Toyota already has a plan to fix this.

It's been nearly two decades since the first Toyota Tundra hit the market. Though quite a bit smaller than today's Tundra, the first-gen model proved Toyota is capable of building a proper full-size truck. The current Tundra has been on the market since 2007, making it the oldest full-size truck sold in the US. It was last updated in 2014 and remains a solid seller for the Japanese automaker.

Automotive News has an interesting report about the Tundra's overall sales status. Despite a 1.6 percent increase in sales through November of this year and a 4.1 percent segment increase in pickup truck sales, the Tundra is still lagging behind its Detroit Three competitors.

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Although it's ahead of the Nissan Titan sales wise, Toyota says the main reason for the Tundra's slower than expected sales is mainly due to one vehicle: the Toyota Tacoma. Toyota will soon boost Tacoma production in Mexico in order to meet strong demand, and this will enable increased Tundra output at its factory in San Antonio, Texas.

"We made some choices… of full-on capacity - what we would be able to build," said Jack Hollis, Toyota Division general manager. "We made some choices as a business entity to push ... Tacoma. That's the fact of the business." A total of 224,128 Tacomas were sold in the US through November, compared to 107,042 Tundras in that same period. Clearly, there's room for Tundra sales growth, and one way to do that is simply to build more.

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"It's capacity. San Antonio is at maximum capacity, maximum overtime. We worked 46 Saturdays last year. We are choosing - because it's our strength - to build a higher mix of Tacoma than Tundra," said Bob Carter, Toyota's executive vice president of sales. "I have no announcements today, but it's not a great surprise if you look at the lineup, that Tundra may be in the latter stages of its life cycle. But that will change. We have a plan underway."

But one thing is absolutely clear for both Hollis and Carter: Tundra sales will never catch up to those of the Ford F-150, Chevrolet Silverado/GMC Sierra, and Ram 1500. "We have no aspirations, no plans to compete at that volume" Carter added. Can we do better than we're doing today? Absolutely." But perhaps there's another reason for slower Tundra sales both executives don't want to say outright: the smaller and always highly capable Tacoma is simply the better all-around truck for most Toyota truck buyers.

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