By on October 8, 2010

In news which will shock absolutely no-one, Business Week reports that Toyota and Nissan’s attempts to woo buyers of big pick-up trucks are failing (or failed, depending which way you’re looking at it). “The Big Three successfully beat back the Toyota incursion into the pickup market” said Brian Johnson, auto analyst for UK bank Barclays, “We had expected Toyota would do what they did with cars and take over the market. Their share gains have been frustratingly slow.” As with most things, the devil is in the details. Or in this case, the devil is in the market research.

For instance, according to Nielsen Claritas data, Toyota truck owners are 38 percent more likely to fly on business than typical truck drivers. Their hobbies are more toward things like mountain biking or backpacking. Now compare this to buyers of Big Three trucks. They are more likely to own a rifle or two. The data also shows that GM and Ford truck owners are more likely to dine at “Cracker Barrel” restaurants, have dial-up internet (does that still exist?!) and use the hardcopy of the Yellow Pages.

Starting to get a picture of your typical Big Three truck driver? Toyota truck drivers are more likely to dine at steakhouses, shop online and own golf clubs. Yep, Toyota took aim at the truck market and missed by a country mile. GM, Ford and Chrysler trucks have the working men and women of the United States buying their trucks and Toyota have yuppies on their side. “Toyota planned for a (truck) market that really didn’t exist,” said Alan L. Baum, an auto analyst at Baum & Associates, “They just didn’t hit a chord with buyer. It was almost comical.” It is kind of ironic, when you think about it. Toyota won the car market over by building cars in vanilla form (and I mean that in a good way). But when it came to building a truck, they failed because it required the vehicle to have some character…

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91 Comments on “The Toyota Tundra. The Quiche Truck...”


  • avatar
    Zackman

    Nothin’ uglier than a Tundra grille – reminds me of a horse collar or one-half toilet seat like the Edsel.

    • 0 avatar
      th009

      It’s no thing of beauty — but still less offensive to my eye than the fully-plastichromed E-350 or F-350 grille.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

       
      Like th009 said, don’t look as bad as some, but still sorta ugly.   The only decent looking front on a recent full size to me seems to be GMC’s.   Chevy just looks weird and “off” somehow, the Ford looks plasticky and cheap, and Dodge is just trying too hard or something.  Dial it back a notch or two and it would look better.

    • 0 avatar
      windswords

      Looks like the faceplate of Cylon centurion from the original Battlestar Galactica. I keep waiting for someone on Car Domain to rig one up with a red light and speakers that make that characteristic “wooola-wooola” sound.

    • 0 avatar
      18726543

      Lectro-I know exactly what you mean about the Chevy grilles looking “off”!  Every time I saw one I thought to myself…why does that look so odd?  Then one day I realized, it looks like a truck through a fish-eye lens!  The way Chevy made the headlights skinnier and the grille wider just gives it an odd, exagerated proportion.

    • 0 avatar
      bugo

      Comparing the Tundra to an Edsel is an insult to the Edsel.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie

    http://www.examiner.com/images/blog/replicate/EXID43585/images/DebbieDownerRachaelDratch.jpg

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    You don’t think that launching the Tundra right into the maw of a recession and a housing crash had something to do with it?

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      You don’t get to revise history. The Tundra was released in MY2000. You do remember the year 2000, don’t you? It was the mid-point of the get-what-you-want-by-borrowing-against-a-borrowed-asset movement.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The Tundra was released in MY2000
       
      The T100/”Small” Tundra is not the topic here: it was plainly too small for this market segment.  We’re talking about the new-for-2008 Tundra.
       
      Remember what 2008 was like?

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Including pre 2007 Tundra’s in that mix is a bit of a stretch.  The true launch of the Tundra was for the 2007 M.Y.  That’s when they built a brand new plant in Texas to build it.  That’s when it became a much larger vehicle, and that was also on the doorstep of the recession.  If your truck isn’t established, that will take the steam out of your momentum.  They pretty much have to start over, and given their investment, the next one will be much better I’m sure.

    • 0 avatar
      Silvy_nonsense

      Despite the fact that the “old” 7/8ths size Tundra sold just fine, Toyota stupidly listened to everyone who said that they weren’t the #1 game in town because their truck wasn’t as big as a Ford or a Chevy. The Tundra went from “just right” to ridiculous.
      The recession and housing crisis didn’t help, but the product wasn’t quite right, it had quality issues and Ford and Chevy moved quickly to make the “new” Tundra yesterday’s news. Toyota was playing AAA quality baseball in the majors and got spanked. Toyota might eventually do well, but not with the current product.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    Maybe fullsize pickup buyers are just more loyal to their own countries automakers?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I know a number of people who bough GM trucks because they were made in Canada.  I don’t think that’s what you mean by “their own country”, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Canuck129

      Built in Texas, and didn’t lay-off any permanent employees, even when they shut the plant down for 2-3months due to the recession.  That’s pretty loyal.

  • avatar
    N Number

    Big three truck drivers eat at Cracker Barrel, have dial-up and use hard copy yellow pages?  What sort of survey somehow puts full size truck drivers into the same demographic as Buick drivers?  I see far more Buicks and Panthers at my local Cracker Barrel than I do Detroit pick-ups.  While I agree that Toyota trucks do attract somewhat of a different demographic, especially in heavily union areas, the examples this study uses seem to be far too generalized.  There are plenty of Toyota drivers that own a rifle or six, drive for business and hunt and fish rather than mountain bike.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Although I have no idea what Cracker Barrel is, I was guessing how someone with enough coin to spend US$ 35K on a truck doesn’t have enough money to afford decent interwebZ.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      That’s alright. We’ve got a CB here. Just got back from Rochester, NY where the waitress at another restaurant didn’t know what sweet tea was. Was time to come back south of the Mason-Dixon.Did the trip in a four door new 2WD GMC truck. Did okay except for the shift downs that put the tach above 4K rpm. What the??? Just climbing a modest hill here – albeit with a 16 ft trailer.

  • avatar
    ash78

    I love how Cracker Barrel is in quotes AND hyperlinked. But maybe I’m demographically weird…I drive a “Volkswagen” and occasionally shop at “Wal Mart” and considered voting for “RON PAUL”
     
    Also, hard copy yellow pages are still valuable.

    • 0 avatar
      Cammy Corrigan

      While I can’t explain the quote marks (probably got carried away), there’s a completely obvious answer as to why Cracker Barrel was hyperlinked.
       
      TTAC is read around the world, not just in North America. Those people might not know what a Cracker Barrel restaurant is. When I wrote the article, I didn’t know what they were like, which is why I looked at the hyperlinked article.

    • 0 avatar
      Sinistermisterman

      Thanks Cammy, as a relative newcomer to North America from the UK I`m still learning all sorts of new brands. It now means I understand certain jokes which completely passed me by before:
      ie, Where does a one legged waitress work? I-Hop.

  • avatar
    zerofoo

    This proves what Toyota has known all along.  Happy customers are repeat customers.
     
    Toyota was able to grow immensely at the expense of Detroit because Detroit’s car customers were very unhappy.  Years of bad small cars and sedans opened the door.
     
    Trucks are a different story.  Detroit never really screwed up trucks.  Most truck owners I know are and have been very happy with their vehicles.  They debate the merits of Dodge vs GM vs Ford, but generally they stand behind their vehicles and claim they are satisfied.
     
    The truck market door was never opened for the imports and that’s why that market is a tough nut to crack.
     
    Imagine what the US car industry would look like today if Detroit had focused on small cars and sedans like they did on trucks.
     
    -ted

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Toyota ran into several problems with the new Tundra. They built it for and marketed it to suburban cowboys and girls who bought trucks more or less as a fashion statement. That market evaporated in 2008. The second and bigger problem is that the domestics never did screw up their truck business they way they did their car business. By and large, full-size truck buyers never had any reason to shift away from the domestics to Toyota. One last problem is that the Tundra lost its connection to the lineage of durable, rugged Hiluxes and T100s, so the “all-new” Tundra had no history to build on.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      The yuppie toy talking point is a carryover from bashing the last gen Tundra.  A smaller truck with less power and more refinement was tantamount to crossdressing or fly fishing … right up until the new Tundra came along and out-trucked everything else whereupon Quiet Steel and soft touch HVAC controls became all important.
       

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    A couple of people I know with Toyota Tundras report they’re not very good trucks, don’t hold up well, are a PIA to maintain and repair, and dealer service is poor. Originally premium priced, one paid substantially less for his Tundra than for a Dodge. He won’t buy another.

    • 0 avatar
      PartsUnknown

      Interesting.  I know two people that went from an F150 and a Ram to Tundras, and they’ve had the complete opposite experience.  One of the guys owns a landscape construction business and bought the Tundra as a “test” after his Rams had continual problems.  He’s now replaced all of his Rams with Tundras.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      Tundras are reliable to up to a point – which is ~ 100,000 mile mark.  Then comes the scheduled maintenance – with a Toyota price tag.
       
      To replace the timing belt on an 02 Tundra with a V8 is a mere $1200.00 US at an independent shop.

    • 0 avatar
      CCH

      Gardiner, i bought an 08 Tundra brand new and i havent had one issue with it, i own a construction co. so i work it pretty hard, i have only done the brakes twice, with my my old F150 at this many miles i was 2 sets of rotors in (it starts to really add up regardless of how much cheaper ford parts are).
      And im not on my own, i have 2 friends both in the construction business who purchased tundras within a couple of months of myself, their experiences have been similar to mine.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Old and slow wrote:
      Tundras are reliable to up to a point – which is ~ 100,000 mile mark.  Then comes the scheduled maintenance – with a Toyota price tag.
       
      To replace the timing belt on an 02 Tundra with a V8 is a mere $1200.00 US at an independent shop.

      Again! Misinformation!  The time to replace the belt is 3.5hrs and the belt itself is $90.  Unless your shop is charging 250/hr then you’re being taken! Lol

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      The above quote was for a colleague at work with an 02 Tundra.  The work was done at one of four independents here in town that do religiously good work on Toyotas.
       
      First – I dare someone to do a 4.7L timing belt replacement properly in 3.5 flat-rate hours. Does this include in a water pump, tensioner pulley, idle pulley and proper reassembly using a torque wrenches?
       
      There are a plethora of other shops here with young cowboys that blaze away with an air ratchet upon reassembly and don’t have the proper tools to lock the dual overhead cams on both banks of cylinders – which means reassembly by guess work. That’s what you get when you go about this scheduled maintenance with a Walmart mentality.
       
      Second, the cheapest online timing belt kit with idler pulley, tensioner, and water pump is $201.00 US, plus shipping. – The lowest price for the Dayco kit, which also comes with an actuator pulley is $286.00 plus shipping.  New valve cover gaskets, antifreeze and spark plugs are not included with the kit.

      Also not included are the new serpentine belt, serpentine belt tensioner and idler pulley, which adds another $110.00 to $125.00 at the jobber price.
       
      Those prices for the minimal parts to do this scheduled maintenance properly are close to the jobber price.  The customer pays retail not the jobber price, plus sales tax for these parts at most independent shops.  Add in a coolant disposal fee – if required by your municipality.

      Now, if you feel confident in a shop that will replace only the belt itself, plus include a 1 year warranty on parts and labor – then go for it. Should a timing belt pulley frag in 12 months and one day, you get to buy a replacement engine.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      On my Honda there is a hole in the cam and a hole in the front cam bearing cap. You line up the two and insert a drill bit the same size. Can’t go wrong. You do this of course before you remove the cam belt. I still don’t see the high cost of the Toyota you quote. For my Honda four banger the belt is $50, four spark plugs at ~$5 each, and a few accessory belts. The tensioner and water pump replacement is optional. In my case both lasted until the ~180K mile point. The tensioner was still okay but making a little noise and the water pump just started to drip. I really doubt the Toyota is going to be that much worse. FWIW I have known people who needed to replace their whole vehicle at about the time the Toyota needs some service.

    • 0 avatar
      OldandSlow

      The Toyota V8 has two cams on each head which means a bodaciously long belt on an interference engine.  The timing belt is relatively short on a Honda 1.5 or  1.6 four cylinder and Honda engineers designed the timing belt to be an easy replacement.  The timing belt replacement is a cake walk compared to doing it on a dual overhead cam V8.

      There are shops here that will do a minimalist timing belt change at 120K, if that is all you will pay for – but that leads to the band aid approach of vehicle maintenance. The result is multiple repairs over the next 120 K versus one single preventive maintenance.

      Water pumps start to wear out at 140K.  Those idler and tensioner pulleys are already jiggly on their bearing at 120K, plus they are made of plastic.  Unless the serpentine belt has recently been replaced, why reuse the old one?

      It may be a minority view, but preventive maintenance is about looking where you want to be at 160K, 180K or 200K versus what you are having to shell out at 120K.

      The shop above has been working on Toyotas for 30 years and provides a 12 month warranty.  Ill admit there is a gravy factor.  However, the old timer has a stellar reputation to protect and he will not reuse old parts upon reassembly . This shop makes it trade with the more discriminating Toyota owner.  Come backs are bad for his business.

      With regards for the Toyota 4.7L V8 – that engine should go a quarter of million miles with proper maintenance.  I can say the same for your Honda engine. Just a 2 cent opinion.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Worth a nickel at least.

  • avatar
    LectroByte

    Looks like they’ve gone to 5 lug wheels too, didn’t they used to be six?

  • avatar
    pgcooldad

    They also launched an inferior truck with a C-Channel frame instead of a fully boxed frame, creating the dreaded Toyota Bed Bounce, in which you cannot even read a map at highway speeds.

    http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=toyota+bed+bounce&aq=0

    Their tailgates were crumbling from the weight of recreational vehicles trying to get into the bed, as trucks are intended to be used.

    And it didn’t help that right off the bat; they had a metallurgical issue with a supplier of camshafts. I know it wasn’t a lot of them, but just enough in the public’s eye.

    Finally, a truck with the worse gas mileage in the market on the eve of sky rocketing gas prices, imploding credit markets, and the housing bust.

    • 0 avatar
      LectroByte

      speaking of trying too hard… LOL.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Motortrend did a comparison last year on the F150 and the Tundra, they pretty much gave the F150 the edge for a “pretty interior” Good ride and lower driving noise?  Mileage was the same. We all know that the Tundra is a rocket, but it was able to out’tow if you will the F150 with ease and merge onto the highway rather effortlessly. 
      Rememeber that although the Tundra utilizes a “C’ channel frame, Ford’s actual work truck, ya’know the F250 ustilizes the exact same frame and it seems to work out fine for them. 

      What it comes down to as well, is product identity.  Truck buyers are very loyal, even if it is an actual piece of crap, they will still continue to buy the same piece of crap.  Im not arguing the quality of the D3 as much as I am the loyalty.  Basically you own a Ford, cause your dad always bought Fords, and his dad always had Fords etc.. Tundra is relatively new to the needs/wants of the Truck market, its going to take longer than 2 – 15 years change buyers minds. 
      The funny thing is how relevent Toyota is in other Truck markets around the world, The D3 don’t carry the same reputation Toyota does for their Trucks globally, thats a known.

    • 0 avatar
      tubacity

      “Truck buyers are very loyal, even if it is an actual piece of crap, they will still continue to buy the same piece of crap.”
      How untrue.  I have a Honda truck that is a piece of crap seen objectively after all the breakdowns.  I will not continue to buy the same brand. 

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Tubacity:

      Honda doesn’t make a Truck, end of discussion. 

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Supra -
      Towing capability is based on frame design, not engine power.  Even with the older powertrains the F-150 could handle a much heavier load safely than the Tundra, it just might not get it up to speed as fast.
       
      The C-channel frame used in the Tundra is a world apart from what is used in the Super Duty.  Compare cross sections of the two, and you will see the metal in the Super Duty is over twice as thick, and the frame is far more robust in the way cross members are through-welded to improve strength and resist flex.  The C-channel design was used for the Super Duty trucks to make it easier for aftermarket upfitters to design bolt on bodies and beds, in the Tundra it was done to save money.
       
       

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      Nullo:
      Towing capability is based on frame design, not engine power.  Even with the older powertrains the F-150 could handle a much heavier load safely than the Tundra, it just might not get it up to speed as fast.
       
      The C-channel frame used in the Tundra is a world apart from what is used in the Super Duty.  Compare cross sections of the two, and you will see the metal in the Super Duty is over twice as thick, and the frame is far more robust in the way cross members are through-welded to improve strength and resist flex.  The C-channel design was used for the Super Duty trucks to make it easier for aftermarket upfitters to design bolt on bodies and beds, in the Tundra it was done to save money.

      The SuperDuty et al ( Chevy and Ram) utilize the same configuration? So the manufacturer appeases the aftermarket upfitter? But you still agree that the C-channel is able to tow 22,000lbs? I guess the Superduty should have metal twice as thick if its going to tow TWICE as much as a Tundra.  Speaking of frames and towing, do you mind telling me which properly equipped F150s tow 11,000lbs? All Tundras with the 5.7 tow 10,300, all of them! Ford dances around 7700lbs and 9600lbs for the most part.  The camshaft issue affected 1000 engines with actually a handful of them even having a problem. with 200,000 sales in 2007, talk about less than a % of a %!

      As for the two options for the rear gears, due to the fact that they have a 5- or 6-speed transmission they don’t need ‘Highway’ or ‘Towing’ gears since they can build them into the transmission and everyone can get them. Their logic behind 6-speeds is one gear more to creep and one more overdrive at the top eliminates the need for 3.55 to 4.3 rear ends.

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Just as comical, Toyota spent millions upon millions of dollars on a red-faced, hairy-chested ad campaign that shows the audience how much beefier the Tundra’s parts are, and have it performing real-world feats of strength and endurance…and they didn’t hit their mark in the slightest. If you drive a Tundra, you’re more likely to be in IT than construction.

  • avatar
    Mark MacInnis

    It has always puzzled me that companies that have in the past 4 decades have gotten cars more wrong than right were simultaneously and almost preternaturally getting trucks more right than wrong….
     

  • avatar
    mikey

    Remember back when GM brought out the new Malibu? The Camry/Accord crowd all said, “the Malibu is a pretty good effort on GM’s part. but it not an Accord or Camry.”

     Well that’s what went down  with the Tundra. The Tundra is as close as the Japanese ever got to building a good full size truck. Close doesn’t work in the truck world. The Titan is a piece of garbage [frame rot]. So the Tundra stands alone. To a certain degree I side with Cammy. The Yuppie crowd will not buy full size trucks in enough volume to make Toyota a player.

     The “real” truck people,contractors,farmers etc, that need real trucks buy from the big three.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      I’d be interested to know if Toyota might not have had more success if this was branded as a half-ton Hino for exactly the reasons you cite.

    • 0 avatar
      lowmanjoe

      Although I submit to some of the Titan’s weaknesses (weak rear axles, brake issues in earlier models) calling the Titan garbage now would be a gross exaggeration.  I have owned my 2004 for nearly 7 years now and there is absolutely NO sign of frame rot, I do my own oil changes and while I’m waiting for it to drain, I do a thorough check underneath.  I have not seen any instances of frame rot on the Titan forums (although I have not recently done a search, a topic like that if it’s a widespread problem does not go unnoticed).  Additionally, just about all of the early problems have been addressed and a brand new Titan now is about as solid as they get (apart from the design being ancient WRT the D3 trucks and Tundra).  Please direct me to documented cases of frame rot, perhaps you’re confusing the Titan with the older Tacoma and Tundra models with problematic frames?

    • 0 avatar
      mikey

      I live in Southern Ont, lots of salt on the roads. I work part time in a junk yard. doing paperwork and anwering phones. We are located in a rural,somewhat depressed area when cars and trucks come to our junk yard,they are indeed junk. Most of our junk trucks are 20 year old domestics.

       The Japanese trucks are rare around our area. When we do get them, frame rot is very common. Solid non rust body panels are very sought after in our part of the world. On two occasions I have seen  Titans truck bend when fork lifted,to the point of bending the sheet metal. knowing how valuable body parts are, the boss flipped.

    • 0 avatar
      lowmanjoe

      Ahh, I figured they’d be in the heavily salted areas.  Sorry if I come off confrontational, the garbage comment touched a nerve since it has been anything but garbage in my experience and that of thousands of others, at least along those lines (no salt on the roads out here, only occassional trips to the ocean beaches).

    • 0 avatar
      Dimwit

      Mikey, do you work at Dom’s?

  • avatar
    Zombo

    I agree that full sized trucks are something the U.S. still does very well . Something else that probably cost Toyota sales , even from buyers of the previous generation Tundra , was the big increase in price when they decided to make the Tundra a ginormous rig from the simpler less costly previous version . The cost of the base 2wd Tundra went from just under 17K to over 23K with the new model . That probably didn’t sit well with the people who bought the first gen Tundra for recreational use and the occasional trip to the home improvement center and the buyers of work trucks liked the full sized rigs they already had just fine .

  • avatar
    turbobeetle

    This is good news as I see it. Since Ford is too scared of cannibalizing F150 sales to continue selling or ever really updating the Ranger significantly, then this leaves a bigger hole to be filled for a right sized (for me at least) truck.
     
    In other words… Bring back the compact Tacoma and FORGET about the Tundra!!! Nissan, this means you too!
     
    Less competition for either market, and more appropriate selection for consumers. I get my efficient, home depot, and take my sportbike to the track truck and country folks just keep on repeat buying their work trucks.

  • avatar
    britnusa

    Well I think part of the issue is that the truck is impossiby ugly. I actually bought a 2004 Tundra and loved it, it was a perfect combination of comfort and utility, as I was not herding Mustangs on the plains or delivering house size boulders I did not need a heavy duty truck and it fit the bill perfectly. I was very disappointed with the refresh and this ugly bastard appeared!!!

  • avatar
    mdensch

    The profile of a Tundra buyer, more so than the domestic buyer, sounds like someone who doesn’t particularly need a truck.
     
    There’s this factor, too.  Those domestic buyers who really have a need for a pickup truck tend to live in more rural areas which are not as well served by Toyota’s dealer network.  Ford and Chevy dealers are in every little podunk town in America.

    • 0 avatar
      mountainman_66

      so true………left coasters cant go a mile w/o seeing a toyoda dealer…not true in the heartland, where small Ford/Chevy/Dodge dealerships are everywhere.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Here’s my take on why the Toyota will never really break into the highly profitable truck market at the rate they want to. Most Americans that left domestic offerings for passenger cars years ago left because domestic passenger cars were not as good as what the Japanese makers built.
     
    Domestic trucks however have always been pretty good and have continued to improve because you can’t afford to not do well in this segment as a manufacturer, especially a domestic manufacturer with limited or not profit passenger cars.
     
    Buyers have no reason to abandon domestic built trucks because the Japanese offerings don’t offer any significant gains or improvements over domestic trucks.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Perhaps Nielsen Claritas surveyed the wrong group of Toyota pickup owners.

    http://tinyurl.com/29jkvww

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    I think you can attribute Tundra’s (and Titan’s) lack of success to arrogance toward the domestic manufacturers.  Unlike the car side of the business, GM, Ford and Dodge have a history of building very good full-size pickup trucks.  Brian Johnson’s statement saying that the analysts “assumed” Toyota would just come on in and take over is a reflection of that arrogance and is also shows some incredibly lazy analysis.
    Truck buyers were not asking for an alternative, more or less they are happy and loyal to their brands.  The manufacturers in turn listened to their customers wants and needs and produced trucks that their customers would buy.  When Toyota brought its truck to market, it had no compelling reason to make the majority of customers want to switch brands… it was and is very much a me-too truck.
    Lastly, the domestics circled the wagons and priced their trucks (with the help of incentives) so aggressively that Toyota would be losing money out of the gate on their all new truck.  Toyota does not play the discount game very well so they could not compete on price.
    The Tundra is a fine truck but lacks any standout reasons to buy one aside from the badge on the grill…and sometimes that isn’t nearly enough.
     
    PS- Cammy, lighten up on the “only poor slack-jawed yokels drive trucks”.  I have plenty of lift truck driving PHD, MBA and P-Eng-toting friends that haul in six and seven-figure salaries that would not so respectfully disagree.

    • 0 avatar
      aspade

      “The Tundra is a fine truck but lacks any standout reasons to buy one aside from the badge on the grill…and sometimes that isn’t nearly enough.”
      Today that’s largely true.
      At launch almost 4 years ago it not only wasn’t true it wasn’t even close.  Toyota had the only six speed.  The only 400 horse V8.  The only modern V6.  Even the work truck V6 had a 5 speed – and best in class sticker mileage.  Toyota’s 6.5′ bed extended cab was as roomy as GM and Ford’s short bed crew cabs.
      The badge on the grill was the only reason people bought anything else.
       

    • 0 avatar
      Bill Wade

      The manufacturers in turn listened to their customers wants and needs and produced trucks that their customers would buy.

      How true. What idiot customers decided the truck beds must have walls so high you need a crane to access the bed? It’s almost impossible to work out of these things.  Huge grills, ground clearance and a bed appropriate for a dump truck all in the name of looks versus utility rules the day.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Toyota planned for a (truck) market that really didn’t exist,”

    Not exactly. Toyota tried very hard to penetrate the traditional truck buyer market. They had a huge traveling road show which went to every farm show and construction trade fair in the country with a massive presence. But, it didn’t work! Toyota didn’t fail because they went after the wrong buyers, Toyota failed because its product didn’t manage to stand head and shoulders above the competition and because the Detroit based makers never took their eye off the ball like they had with automobiles. In the end, Toyota brought a few Ginsu knives to a machine gun fight, and lost.
    Toyota could of and should have learned from Nissan’s earlier, similar failure … but didn’t. San Antonio, Texas did get itself a nice new factory out of the deal though. Texas is ground zero for the traditional US truck buyer, and Toyota built the factory there precisely because they were going after that buyer.
    Toyota didn’t aim at the wrong buyer, they simply missed the target. The fact that the only buyers they seem to be getting are mountain bike riding wildlife photographers is a matter of what happened, not of what they tried to do.
    Oddly enough, Scion has a similar story in that a whole lot of Scion’s buyers were practical senior citizens and not the young hipsters Toyota thought Scion would attract.
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      John horner wrote:
      Oddly enough, Scion has a similar story in that a whole lot of Scion’s buyers were practical senior citizens and not the young hipsters Toyota thought Scion would attract.

      There were a few few holes in your previous post, but invariably it shows facts are often skewed by misconception and several “loose” media outlets.

      Target market
      The median age of a Toyota consumer was, as of February 2007, 54 years old. Comparatively, Scion’s average buyer age is the lowest in the industry, at 29 years old.[37]
      Scion’s first two cars (the xA and xB), while unusual for American roads, have been well received among consumers not interested in standard entry-level vehicles.[2] The tC was also well received with brisk sales.[38]

  • avatar
    John Horner

    Oh, and one more thing. Toyota’s vaunted high unit sales per dealership model worked against it as well. Toyota is not well represented in the smaller heartland towns of middle America. Residents of those towns are the dial-up using, Cracker Barrel eating heart of the pickup truck market. In many cases, Toyota doesn’t even have a sales presence there!
     

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Toyota has it’s eyes on the 3/4 ton and up pickup truck markets but are moving as slow as molasses to avoid any backlash. Toyota stalled like 2 or 3 decades to produces a 1/2 ton and still doesn’t want to dominate or injure the Americas beloved Full-size truck segment. Least not yet. Same with Nissan and Mitsubishi. They feel like Americans would hate them and stop buying their cars. That’s why Toyota went with the name Hino Motors LTD instead, for their line of medium duty truck. Nissan is UD Trucks and Mitsubishi is Fuso.

  • avatar
    NN

    This game ain’t over yet, folks.  Toyota is a master at applying learned lessons to new models.  They’ll stick to it, continuously improve, and slowly whittle away the market share of the Big 3.  Once the Tundra’s are built to a quality standard as the other Toyota trucks are (I don’t think they are now, due to the all new plant, all new product, etc.), then years down the road people will see lots of Toyotas with 200k plus miles and original mechanicals.  That’s when things will change.  There are lots of Ford and Chevy’s and Dodge (diesels) with 200k+ on them, but more often than not they are at least on their 2nd transmission, at least.  Just read the ebay listings on high mileage pickups and you’ll see the evidence.

  • avatar
    windswords

    “Their hobbies are more toward things like mountain biking or backpacking. Now compare this to buyers of Big Three trucks. They are more likely to own a rifle or two.”
     
    WTF!? Does that mean the Big Three owners can shoot the Toyota/Nissan truck owners while they are hiking or backpacking? Holy disjointed thought Batman!

  • avatar
    SchmilBit

    Plus, it never helped that they named it “tundra” which I’ve heard also used to refer to that certain area of female anatomy aka beaver or pelt.
    And the special model is a TRD? Did they leave out the “U”???
    What were these guys thinking??!!

  • avatar
    benzaholic

    I have to agree that the D3 trucks were already doing a good job when Toyota and Nissan tried to enter that game.
     
    Additionally, weren’t the D3 already into their cycle of putting more attention and resources into truck/SUV development and refreshes than into cars when the Japanese brands tried to join the party? Definitely the wrong place at the wrong time.

  • avatar
    CSJohnston

    At launch almost 4 years ago it not only wasn’t true it wasn’t even close.  Toyota had the only six speed.  The only 400 horse V8.  The only modern V6.  Even the work truck V6 had a 5 speed – and best in class sticker mileage.  Toyota’s 6.5′ bed extended cab was as roomy as GM and Ford’s short bed crew cabs.
    The badge on the grill was the only reason people bought anything else.

    I disagree, none of those things made very much of a difference.  Dodge and GM had engines that came close to the Tundra in horsepower so to my point, not really a game-changer (Ford was the only real laggard here).  A V6 in a full size pickup?  Check your % of sales mix and you will see the V6 take rate is minimal.
    Fuel economy? Perhaps, but a couple of more important items to truck buyers are tow/haul ratings.  Toyota’s claims were wildly optimistic in real-world driving and they had to re-publish their numbers soon after to reflect customer complaints.
    Bottom line, Toyota’s truck was no great leap forward, didn’t scare anyone post-lauch and has now been clearly surpassed by the domestics on almost every level.
    You need to give people a reason to change, Toyota has not done that and neither have the domestics pushed their customers away.

    • 0 avatar
      Suprarush

      A V6 Tundra would only be offered as a service vehicle, but even then Toyota itself wouldn’t be flood dealer lots with 10 each when you purchase 20 5.7 V8 Crew Cabs.  When Toyota brought out their Truck, tow rating of 10,800.  Ford changed their Tow rating immedialtely to 11,000? what changed with their Truck? nothing the competition.  The Power from the DOHC engine, the towing, the braking were all well documented and it did have the D3 in a bit of a scare, especially when Toyota sold close to their 200,000/year goal in their first year, Dodge was selling just over 350,000 and their history was far deeper than Toyotas and continues to dwindle in sales compared to the F150 and Silverado every year.  Again its about brand identity and not so much about what the Truck can or cannot do.  Of course there’s to be some ‘teething” issues regarding an all new Truck, and when I say “new” I mean New everything, not borrowed components from previous generations with new sheet metal and headlights and taillights, it was new from the ground up.  2 Major things went terribly wrong when Toyota aggressively pushed this Truck, major world-wide recession ($4/gallon gas) and 10 years too late entering the full-size pickup market.  If Toyota can hit the 150,000 units again in 3-5 yrs they should consider themselves lucky and fortunate.

  • avatar
    Nick

    I think a large part of it too is that the Big 3 trucks are the only vehicles left that offer the plethora of options, colours, cab and bed styles that they used to offer for most vehicles.  I always though how much fun it would have been to order a car in the late 60s.  Truck owners still get to build it the way I like it.  Toyota has choices, but nearly to the extent of the Big 3.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      Bingo – keywords for the day kiddies are “buildable combinations”….D3 have them, Toyota doesn’t.

      Truck buyers are a finicky lot and like to spec out their trucks exactly to their liking. Toyota packages options together in such a way that you are forced to buy way too much to just get one minor thing that you consider essential. While the D3 have whittled down their combinations from their peak, they still offer more configurations and standalone options than Toyota and Nissan do. When the Japanese figure this key element out, they may just make some inroads into this segment.  

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    There’s three big reasons I can see why this model doesn’t sell very well.
    The biggest one is price.  The Big 3 have much better incentives, and a comparative model out the door is going to be substantially cheaper (but the resale value and quality will be better with the Toyota)
    Second, the look of the truck just doesn’t work, it’s too “swoopy”.  A pickup truck needs to look rugged, it’s way too feminine looking, like a lifted Prius.
    The third reason is American flag waving (even though many of the Big 3 truck offerings are built in Mexico and Canada, while ALL the Tundras are built in the US.) Ive definitely seen this crowd though move away from GM and Chrysler and to Ford because of the bailout mess.

  • avatar
    cheezeweggie

    With Detroit and Nissan offering fairly decent pickups, Toyota dealers need to back off their “It’s a Toyota” soapbox and realize that they actually need to compete in this segment.  I walked out of several Toyota dealerships and ended up in a Nissan.

    • 0 avatar
      PenguinBoy

      +1
      Offering a wide variety of packages doesn’t fit in well with Toyota’s “lean” philosophy, but is very important to truck buyers.
      Some buyers want rubber floormats and heavy duty options, others want diesel engines and ultra plush interiors.
      All Corolla buyers use their vehicles in more or less the same way, but there is a wide range of uses for a full sized truck.
      I also agree with the comments about the D3 always offering a pretty decent truck, so their customers had no reason to go elsewhere.
      I don’t think that redneck brand loyalty is the only thing keeping Toyota out of this market.  Many full sized trucks are bought by fleets (not rental car fleets), a purchasing manager in charge of leasing 200 trucks a year has a pretty good idea of what his costs are.  If Toyota offered a product that meets the needs of these buyers, while offering lower ownership costs, I’m sure they would break into the fleet market quickly.

  • avatar
    jandrews

    Jesus, all this discussion of mismanaged ad campaigns and incentives is making my head hurt. These items had NOTHING to do with the Tundras lower sales volume.
     
    The simple fact of the matter is that most “core” pickup buyers in the US buy domestics because their Diddy’s Diddy’s Diddy drove a Chevy and so do they! They don’t give a crap that GM and Dodge vehicles, including their pickups, fall the fuck apart under 100k. Ford, to their credit, does not have this problem. Why do you think the best regarded GM and Dodge trucks have diesel engines and HD transmissions made by other companies?
     
    The strength of the Japanese automakers was always that their vehicles were essentially unkillable, almost to the point of being frighteningly durable. Everyone has known this since the 80s. However, a lot of pickup buyers are in You-Got-A-Pretty-Mouth, Pennsyltucky, or some similarly isolated town that still thinks the post-WW2 “Japanese-build-fragile-vehicles” mindset is accurate.
     
    Hell, I live in the relatively rural south, in a town with a Freightliner (close relationship to Dodge) plant. This town is half Chrysler products and I own two Toyotas. People continue to talk to me about how tough their road-going Rams are despite the constant breakages and the chintzy interiors.
     
    The Tundra “failed” (this isn’t over…Toyota has been here before) not because Toyota did anything wrong with it, but because actual quality doesn’t matter in this market. Friends opinions and being able to rant about foreign countries TERKING OUR JERBS! does.
     

    • 0 avatar
      NulloModo

      Yes and no.  I’m sure brand loyalty has something to do with it, but Toyota also ignored a huge chunk of truck business – fleet and business use.
       
      The domestic trucks are available in a wider range of axle ratio and bed length configurations, and have a much much larger aftermarket available with everything from service beds to flood lights and special use prep packages.  A lot of that comes from having enough sales volume to offer those things and still be profitable, and Toyota might one day offer a comparable set of configurations, but at launch, and for the most part still today, they don’t.
       
      Yes, there have been some Tundras purchased for business use, but the numbers are minuscule compared to what you see purchased from Ford or Chevy.
       
      As far as reliability goes, the Tundra didn’t do itself any favors at launch.  The D3 trucks have for the most part been pretty well sorted out for years, but the new Tundra was plagued with recalls, some for fairly serious engine and driveline issues, in the years following its debut.  Toyota also designed an interior that’s a complete ergonomic nightmare.  It looks cool, but even tall men with long arms have to reach uncomfortably over the center console to reach some of the center stack controls.

    • 0 avatar
      jandrews

      You’re right on about the interior. When I test drove Tundy’s, I was extremely unimpressed with both the visual feedback of the interior as well as the ergonomics. Ford certainly has all the other fullsize pickups beat in this department – the new F150 has as restrained a design as you can expect when details like oil and transmission temp gauges have to be included. Aside from the gauge cluster looking like a Cessna cockpit, it’s pretty nice.
       
      The fleet and business use point is valid, but I don’t think Toyota lost business there because of any particular design decision – I think it was simply the price premium. F-150s are solid trucks, and Ford offers better incentives period. And pricing always gets more aggressive with increased volume.
       
      I think the label of “failure” is only a temporary item. Toyota has made some startlingly GM-like bad decisions in recent years (not least of which is having about 3 models offered in every segment), but they have deep enough coffers to learn and respond to setbacks. The General never had that luxury. I think ToMoCo is going to do what it’s always done…slowly refine it’s vehicle by poaching the most coveted features of proven models from other brands, and eventually carve out a useful, if not majority, share of the truck market.

  • avatar

    Tundra is the same story as Scion xB. First generation was excellent.

  • avatar
    daga

    All the product comments may be right, but to me the biggest difference is the rural dealer presence.

  • avatar
    carlisimo

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    Toyota would’ve looked like geniuses if the “suburban truck buyer who doesn’t need a truck at all” market had continued to grow. That was a new market that would’ve had a lot of potential if not for the recession (not that I like it).
     
    If you aren’t creating new markets, then your sales growth has to come from conquests. And those are hard when the existing customer base is already satisfied. We’ve all seen that in action. People switched from domestic cars to Toyota and Honda because they were unhappy, and then when domestics started coming out with decent cars their old customers didn’t come back in droves because they were happy with what they had. There is an alternative – buy a customer base with subsidized cars like Lexus did. Toyota could probably do it because it doesn’t need as much truck profit as the Big 3 do. Or build a truck that’s much better than the competition for the same price. Equal or slightly-better products don’t win many conquests from satisfied customers.
     
    (In other news, GM should stop whining that its new cars deserve Camry-level market share.)

  • avatar
    blowfish

    used to know a card carrying lumber jack, he works in the bush for 6 wks at a time. He said Toyo trucks are kind of above rubies, as it only need to add gas and nothing else.
    I dont think he’s anymore yuppier than anybody else, he just swore like any other logger, seeing how is buddies have issues with Trucks from Big 3s.
    That was 4-5 yrs ago, dont know whats he driving now though or may have went back to big 3s now.

  • avatar
    nrd515

    I have a friend who bought a Titan soon after launch. He works at the Nissan dealer, and his Chevy had been in two minor wrecks and had 200K+ on it, so it was time. His boss made him a deal he couldn’t refuse, and he bought it. At first, he was very happy, then the weird noises started from the back end, like it was coming apart when you went over a rail crossing, and then the seat broke (He isn’t very big), and the electrical stuff started going wrong. Three and a half years into it, he got rid of it, and since his boss owns a Ford store too, he bought an F150 to replace it.
    A neighbor of mine had been drooling over the big Tundra when it was announced, and he was the first, and so far only person I know who has bought one. He predicted it was “the end” of the domestic truck domination. I rode in it and was pretty impressed, but I didn’t think Toyota got the dash layout right, and the exterior is odd looking. At this point, he’s generally happy with it, but even he admits it’s not anything as great as he expected. It’s had a couple of minor issues, ate the rear end, and one major engine issue (I think it’s the cam deal). My 03 Ram had only one issue in the almost 5 years I had it, it ate the rear end, in the same exact way the Tundra did. Yeah, the Tundra was faster than my Ram, but not as much as I expected, and the milage was almost identical. I was very happy with my Ram, more happy then he’s been with his Tundra. I would have bought another Ram, but a severe knee injury made me switch to a car, my first in over 20 years.

  • avatar
    also Tom

    i drive the Tundra, GMC/Chevy and Ford all the time. No way will this truck ever get ahead of the F series. Ford may be slack on some things, but they are almost constantly making improvements/adjustments to the F series. The Ford is far ahead of the other two. Besides, in 2011 I wouldn’t consider any truck with a 4spd. auto.

  • avatar
    mopar4wd

    I agree that the big 3 did well witch trucks thereby never gving consumers a reason to leave. I find the price argument interesting, a friend at work just bought his first pickup truck and it was a new Tundra, he asked around at his Rod and Gun club and actually decided to get an F-150, but went to the other three for test drives. I asked how he ended up with the Tundra and he said, he liked the F-150 the best but the Tundra came in $2000 bucks less when optioned the same way. He said the dealer was so desperate to dump Tundras they would agree to almost anything. Apparently the dealer said this was common the only way they can sell them is to slash them to below big 3 pricing. Not sure if it’s the same in the rest of the country this dealer was located in western mass.

  • avatar
    rudiger

    It’s worth mentioning that although he’s not known as the ‘father’ of the big Toyota pickup truck, Bob McCurry was certainly instrumental in getting Toyota to build it. McCurry is best remembered as the Chrysler executive who originated the modern rebate when, in 1975 during the Super Bowl, Chrysler ran a commercial with Joe Gargiola hawking a new Dodge Dart by saying, “Buy a car, get a check!”. Those original $200 rebate checks were a spectacular marketing success. Ever since, for better or worse, Americans interested in a domestic product are now used to being patient and waiting for the inevitable rebate to the point that it’s almost an absolute necessity to sell a domestic vehicle.

    Ironically, although McCurry switched from Chrysler to Toyota in 1978, Toyota never really got on the rebate bandwagon in the huge way that the domestics did.

  • avatar
    cater

    You are correct and incorrect.  Uneducated people are likely to buy the big three. But to say tundra is not for the working man is incorrect. The reason being that uneducated people tend to Work the tougher job’s and can only afford a low rate pre-owned domestic. I’m a very hard working construction worker, that happens to be semi-Educated. (College Degrees) .FACT: Cheaper, Better Quality, Style, Better resale value . Why not buy Tundra? Is it that it’s made in the U.S with more American parts?  Yes the tundra keeps more money in the U.S Than any of the big three Poor options.  Oh And smoke Most of the big threes sport cars in the 1/4 mile.

  • avatar
    armadamaster

    I’ll never forget when my former employer was forced to switch from the reliable T100s over to the ‘new’ 2000 Tundras for local deliveries. A few thousand miles in when they started blowing spark plugs out of the heads and we got tired of the dealership excuses, we call Toyota corporate to see what we could do about it. Toyota’s response was “Our trucks are not made for commercial use”. We switched to Chevy’s and Ford’s and never looked back.


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