More steak, less sizzle. That's been Toyota's long-time approach to building automobiles. The company tends to focus more on manufacturing efficiencies than on product development, which results in well-made vehicles that don't necessarily stimulate the adrenal glands. But, does that apply to the redesigned Tundra? The new Tundra is juicier than its predecessors and seems to be well-researched to satisfy the needs of its customers. How potential buyers respond to that remains to be seen. What's interesting, however, is that Toyota appears to have hedged its bets by putting meat on the tables of Texans-who are potentially the Tundra's biggest customers.
Toyota's brand-new factory in San Antonio has gone live and is designed to churn out 200,000 trucks a year. However, not just any truck, only Tundras. This is in contrast with the "mother plant" in Indiana that builds the last-generation Tundra, in addition to SUVs and minivans. In the process, Toyota is also manufacturing good will and loyalty in America's pickup-truck heartland. Toyota sunk a grip of money into its innovative facility in Texas-$1.28 billion-and has hired 2,000 people to staff it. Suppliers located on the same campus, which is an approach to shorten logistical and communication lines, have hired another 2,000. Around 100,000 people applied for those 4,000 jobs. That's a lot of pent-up demand for work that has been satisfied by Toyota. This was followed by a marketing campaign which plastered the Toyota and Tundra names onto billboards within site of the Alamo and on other media, as well. The sides of Houston's downtown sports arena bears the name Toyota Center, and fans of the Rockets, Comets, and Aeros who drive to a game there can park their cars in the Toyota Tundra Parking Pavillion.
The beneficiaries of such meat-and-potatoes marketing won't be the Big 3. Ford stands to take the biggest hit as the manufacturer of the most popular pickup in the country, in the nation's largest pickup market. But, all of the other players in the fullsize segment, including Chevrolet, Dodge, and Nissan, are guaranteed to sharpen their knives in preparation of Toyota's surge in this profitable market, and setting the table for a cornucopia of competition. Food fight, anyone?