By on August 8, 2017

2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro lineup - Image: ToyotaThere are a number of major consequences springboarding off the early August 2017 announcement that Toyota and Mazda would come together to build an assembly plant in Somewhere, United States.

First, Mazda production returns to the United States for the first time since the Mazda 6 left Flat Rock, Michigan, in 2012.

Second, the Toyota Corolla — produced now in Cambridge, Ontario, and Blue Springs, Mississippi — will be assembled in a second U.S. assembly plant.

Third, Toyota will acquire a 5-percent stake in Mazda, while Mazda returns the favor by claiming a 0.25-percent portion of Toyota.

And to the increasingly pickup-truck-conscious U.S. consumer, the most significant consequence of the Toyota-Mazda partnership will be more Toyota Tacomas. That’s right: more pickup trucks for America.

Toyota, of course, is already renovating its Tijuana, Mexico assembly plant for a 60-percent production increase of Mexico-built Tacomas, having previously increased the number of shifts at Toyota’s truck plant in San Antonio, Texas.

But with a new Mazda-shared factory coming on line in the U.S., the Toyota Corolla that was going to be built at Toyota’s upcoming Guanajuato, Mexico facility will instead be assembled north of the Rio Grande. That means Toyota will build even more Tacomas in Mexico, this time at a plant designed to produce 200,000 Corollas.

Granted, Toyota won’t add 200,000 Tacomas to its current capacity (160,000 Tijuana Tacomas and 135,000 Texas Tacomas), but Toyota clearly intends to earn back a hefty chunk of the market share it lost to General Motors over the last two years. Yet according to Toyota’s North American CEO Jim Lentz, the reason the Tacoma hasn’t been able to generate greater sales growth in the recent past is purely down to a lack of supply.

“Right now if you ask our dealers what’s the No. 1 vehicle we need more of, what are customers coming in [to buy] and we don’t have enough to supply their needs, it’s Tacoma.”2017 Toyota Tacoma TRD Pro - Image: ToyotaBut San Antonio, Tijuana, and Guanajuato? Is there not a possibility of having too many Tacomas?

Toyota is so far from having too many that excessive supply is not on the list of near-term concerns. lists fewer than 20,000 Tacomas in stock, or about 29 days of supply. In an industry that believes 60 days is ideal, the Tacoma’s relative scarcity on dealer lots is problematic.

Toyota will face more challenges in the midsize truck market, however, with the upcoming Ford Ranger due in 2019. Toyota’s goal, right around the time the Ranger comes on stream, is to overcome that challenge by flooding the market with Tacomas in a way the company is not presently capable of doing.

Toyota set a U.S. Tacoma sales record in 2015 and broke it in 2016, but sales are only slightly better than flat through the first seven months of 2017 because Toyota doesn’t have enough Tacomas to truly meet demand. Toyota still owns 43 percent of America’s midsize truck market, but that’s down from 65 percent in 2013, when competitors were few and far between.

With a Mazda cohabiting arrangement, Jim Lentz tells Automotive News, “This gets me pickup capacity quicker than anything else because I’ve already got a plant under construction.” Not lost in Toyota’s move to open up the taps on a huge amount of Tacoma capacity, of course, is the move of future Corolla production from a plant that could build 200,000 per year in Mexico to a Mazda-shared U.S. plant where 150,000 Corollas can be assembled.

More pickup trucks? Sorely needed. More sedans? Not so much.

[Image: Toyota]

Timothy Cain is a contributing analyst at The Truth About Cars and and the founder and former editor of Follow on Twitter @timcaincars.

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42 Comments on “By 2020, Toyota Wants to Sell Tacoma Pickup Trucks to All Y’all...”

  • avatar

    Mexican made with the torque-less wonder 3.5L coupled with a 400lb weight gain from the previous generation (that had a 4.0L)? No thanks.

    • 0 avatar

      It meets their target demographic’s appeoval (posers). Its a mobile Bro-certified image projector.

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’ve got multiple Bro-certified image projectors in my neighborhood. They’re never dirty. They’re never hauling or towing anything. They have aftermarket wheels and lifts to make their drivers look outdoorsy and tough.

        And they’re Ford f*cking F150s, John. Get a grip.

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah, the small fraction of bro Toyota trucks is completely over shadowed by all the Chevy, Ford and Dodge bros. Ford 150s are always by far the cleanest, followed by GMC

        • 0 avatar

          KRAMER: “It’ll be me, you, and the Bro, bro.”
          FRANK C: “Let’s do it! Except we have to do something about the name.”
          KRAMER: “Why? What’s wring with Bro?”
          FRANK C: “No, Bro’s no good. Too ethnic.”
          KRAMER “You got something better?”
          FRANK C: “How about the Mansiere?”
          KRAMER “Mansiere.”
          FRANK C: “That’s right. A brassiere for a man. The Mansiere, get it?”

        • 0 avatar

          Yeah I’d say the Tacoma-bros (which certainly exist) are vastly overshadowed by domestic truck bros simply by way of absolute numbers of each sold to begin with. The rate of modified vs stock trucks of each seems about even to be honest, with the big HD diesels getting the most garish modifications.

      • 0 avatar

        Thats fine, but the engine was enough to push me away from buying one.

        I bought a 3.5L, but mine has 2 turbos attached to it in a full size. (I was seriously considering the Tacoma, and if I’d bought one I was intending to send a picture of it to Ford HQ with the caption “Look Ford, I bought a new Ranger!”

      • 0 avatar

        Trolling again.

    • 0 avatar

      @ gtemnykh. My sentiments exactly. The online reviews by owners aren’t kind either.

  • avatar

    4.6L it.

  • avatar

    More midsize pickups. Ranger, Jeep, Colorado, Taco, Frontier, Ridgeline. Sweet.

  • avatar

    They can try to sell me one, I suppose. No harm in saying “no.”

  • avatar

    Is there a difference in resale value in Mexican-assembled vs US-assembled pickups?

  • avatar

    Midsize truck market is dead. So say’s Ford, RAM, and RAM.

    Oh wait, that was in 2013.

    Well, the compact pickup truck market is truly dead.

    • 0 avatar

      Ford didn’t say it was dead, just that they wanted to let GM explore the idea first, and base their decisions on that. GM’s twins are successful, and thus we will get a Ranger. Just so happens to coincide with an update of the T6 Ranger, so the timing is good.

      GM said it was dead by killing the original Colorado/Canyon, and at the time, there was no scheduled replacement. Then, as the market improved and light trucks soared, we got new versions.

      The growth in this segment is directly related to the life breathed into it by new products. Even old products are of benifit of the renewed interest, as in the Nissan Frontier.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m sure there’s more to it than the sales “success” of the GM twins. Ford sounded very renounced on global Ranger staying global only, just a few years ago.

        It’s clear the GM midsize twins cannibalize much of the GM lineup, some of which are extremely profitable. Of course even GM completely did away with the Colorado/Canyon at one point.

        It’s gotta be for CAFE reasons. Midsize pickups often get better fuel economy than fullsize pickups (yes really!), and within a brand, the fuel mileage of all their “trucks” get averaged together, including “PT Cruiser” type trucks.

        I’d expect hybrid and EV midsize pickups to show up soon, paving the way (trial and error) for fullsize pickup hybrids/EVs before 2025.

        • 0 avatar

          I don’t think this hypothesis holds up. The new CAFE standards are footprint-based (rather than fleet-wide), so a F-150 gets much more lenient requirements than a compact pickup would. In fact, at least some of the current F-150 models are already near compliance with the 2025 standards.

          And you don’t have to wait until 2025 for a hybrid full-size pickup – Ford has already announced the hybrid F-150 coming in 2020, and test vehicles have been spotted on the roads from time to time. There might be a hybrid Ranger eventually, but it will come later on.

          The resurgence of midsize pickups is because they are almost as capable (especially with regard to towing) as older half-tons, and the narrower width makes them much less clumsy to drive. Now, if only we could see someone bring back a real compact pickup…

          • 0 avatar

            CAFE rules are sales based. Ford, GM and FCA should sell at least one hybrid or EV for every “gas guzzler” they sell. Clearly that’s not gonna happen, but they can try.

            Consider how many consumers buy a fullsize truck when a midsize truck will do just fine, except one isn’t offered (Ranger), in short supply (Tacoma) or overpriced (Tacoma!!!).

            Figure every 2 or 3 midsize pickup *sale* “cancels out” or cannibalizes one vehicle from the same lot. Hopefully for the automaker it’s a “lost sale” of a bigger and thirstier fullsize SUV or pickup.

  • avatar

    I love the idea of a Tacoma; rugged, reliable and a great value. More than any other car, it comes closest to being the last vehicle you’ll ever need. But there’s no way I can consider buying one until they change (fix) the driving position. The current truck feels like you are driving a go kart. Either the seat is too low or the floor is too high, but I think it’s BOTH. Any word on a redesign?

    • 0 avatar

      Nope, you just get used to it. FWIW, they do last a long friggin’ time. My dad’s had his Taco for 17 years now, with only paint missing from the thing.

      • 0 avatar

        Same here. I go back and forth between my T100 4×4 and another vehicle with a “normal” seating position. Although an unusual seating position on the Toyota, the trade off is excellent ground clearance.

    • 0 avatar

      I agree. I’m trying to sell my wife on a replacement for her explorer but the driving position of the Tacoma is not very truck like. More like early 1990s accord. I’m sure it’s a great truck and it’s probably good for your veins too.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      4Runner. Assuming you don’t need an open bed. All the rugged reliability and value of a Tacoma (perhaps more since it uses the proven 4.0 V6), but with a normal driving position and a real back seat.

    • 0 avatar

      The driving position is part of the appeal. It also allows for higher frame to ground clearance without having the whole truck higher. It’s one of my favorite parts of the tacoma.

  • avatar

    If they have more capacity, maybe they’ll bring back the 4 cylinder, stick shift, 2WD truck.

  • avatar
    Clueless Economist

    Hyundai to self, “Dang it! If only we had had the balls to produce the Santa Cruz in 2016 when we originally said we would. Looks like we are too late to the game. Time for some more compact mommymobiles.”

  • avatar

    I see a Tacoma in my future since it has a manual option and plenty of towing capacity for my future plans, towing a track-prepped FRS. I also hate huge cars/trucks so the modern 1500 series trucks do not appeal to me, as much as I wish I could get a V8 in the Tacoma.

    Side note: I love Mazda as a brand much more than Toyota so it’d be awesome to see Mazda return to the US truck market with one based on the Tacoma.

  • avatar

    Honda fanboy here. Sad to see that among the exploding Japanese mid-size pickup segment, Honda is missing a chance to make boatloads of money.

    The Ridgeline is a really bad attempt at selling a pickup to Americans. Anyone can see it’s just a Honda Odyssey with the back chopped open.

    If Honda just finally buckled down and got serious about a Honda truck by doing an actual frame-on body, serious suspension, and some bigger tires, I feel like people would flock to them.

    And that front nose on the Ridgeline – style-wise, it has more Toyota Camry DNA than any “truck” I’ve ever seen. Please, Honda!!

  • avatar

    I hate the front clip– It looks like a mean little dog that wants to bite you. Oh yeah Toyota: bring back the regular cab like my 2008.

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