For years, Toyota Tundra fans have been teased with the idea that Toyota will build a heavy duty version of it. While there has been many false rumors in the past, currently a new crop of speculation is building a strong case for a heavy duty coming to market soon. What makes these rumors different? Timing.
The last 6-12 months have seen a resurgence in the automotive market lead by full-size truck sales. The truth is that most of the recovery has been lead by trucks and Toyota has been trying for years to get a larger piece of it. Ever since its introduction in 2006, the Toyota Tundra has been trying to crack into this market. The problem? Customers are extremely brand loyal and want lots of options. Toyota has tried to focus on just the 1/2-ton market and they have succeeded in creating a consistent market share. That market share could grow with their new 2014 model, yet there is more they can do.
Why hasn’t Toyota built an HD yet? The truth is that Toyota has been hamstrung over the years. They consolidated production of both the Tacoma and Tundra to one plant in San Antonio, Texas. Then, they dealt with earthquakes in Japan and a worldwide recession. Prior to these events, most dealers were told back in 2009 that an HD model was on the way.
An HD model for the Tundra makes a LOT of sense. HD trucks have a larger MSRP and have lots of profit in them especially in upgraded trim lines. Also, there is a market of current Tundra loyalists who need a more powerful truck to tow their RVs and boats. Lastly, there are many commercial fleet owners, who already own Toyota cars, that would be interested in adding Toyota quality to their trucks.
New Rumors Point to HD model
What has changed to cause an HD rumor to grow? Lots. First, the turnaround of the economy. Second, the new CAFE regulations are calling for better fuel economy in full-size trucks. These regulations apply to light-duty trucks, the HD trucks are exempt. This means, Toyota can shift some Tundra owners to HD models and avoid falling under these regulations and/or paying fines. Lastly, towing the space shuttle, showed Toyota how well-built the truck really is.
Fueling these rumors is the man at the top of Tundra himself. Chief Engineer Mike Sweers has been quoted by USA Today as saying: “Under consideration: Shifting some production of the compact Tacoma pickup, built at San Antonio, back to the Baja, Mexico, Tacoma factory, says Mike Sweers, chief engineer for the Tundra.
Other possibilities: overtime shifts, and speeding up the Texas assembly line. That’s always a touchy issue in manufacturing plants. Sweers thinks it could be done by asking line workers to ferret out wasted moments and inefficient processes.
Toyota says it’s considering the production issues now because advance orders for 2014 Tundras have been stronger than expected. The automaker plans as-yet-undisclosed additional variants of the Tundra that, it believes, should boost demand even more.”
This quote along with a customer survey that was sent to Tundra asking their input on Toyota offering an HD model is helping to fuel this speculation.
One thing is certain. It doesn’t seem like a matter of “if” Toyota offers one anymore, it is more about “when.”
What do you think? Would you be interested in an HD Tundra?