Toyota is examining the feasibility of increasing capacity at its San Antonio factory that assembles fullsize Tundra and compact Tacoma pickup trucks, according to a report by Automotive News. Operating two shifts plus overtime and Saturdays, the plant has a capacity of 250,000 units. Toyota’s Tijuana, Mexico plant puts together knockdown kits of the Tacoma, adding another 50,000 units, most of which go to the local market or to Canada. Fay said that fiddling with the assembly lines could add ~7,000 trucks to each plant’s output, but the total of 307,000 units may not be enough for the North American market as sales of the Tundra have rebounded for the past couple of years after a three year slump.
In the first 11 months of the year, Toyota has sold 248,468 Tundras and Tacomas combined in the U.S., up 14% from 2012, with 101,744 of those being the redesigned Tundra. Fay predicted that Toyota could sell 137,000 Tundras next year. When the Tundra was introduced in 2007, Toyota sold almost 200,000 that year but sales dropped about 30% in 2008 and then fell to ~79,000 as the recession deepened in 2009.
If Toyota sells 137,000 Tundras next year, even if Tacoma sales remain the same, the plants in Texas and Mexico would not be able to keep up with the demand. Still, Toyota isn’t eager to risk the capital expenditures needed to increase the capacity at San Antonio, having witness sales crater just five years ago.
“We have 2008 and 2009 fresh in our minds, when the pickup market dropped from 2.5 million to 1.1 million,” Fay said, “but we also need to be flexible for three years down the road from now. What kind of production and support do we need for the second half of this decade? How much do we need to invest?”