2007 Toyota Tundra – The Breakthrough Expected?
Arguably the biggest news at the Chicago Auto Show was the first glimpse of the all new 2007 Toyota Tundra pickup. Well, maybe it was not arguably, but absolutely the biggest news. Can Toyota be stopped? Will the Tundra gut the family jewels of the Big Three chipping away at the last remaining profitable units in the Silverado, Ram and F-Series lineups? Is the Tundra a breakthrough in full size pickup design? Has Toyota finally fielded a fully competitive pickup? Lots of questions were answered at Chicago and many remain to be answered. VehicleVoice correspondents and AutoPacific analysts were on hand to see the reveal of the Tundra first hand.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA President Jim Press Pitching the New Tundra
Clearly the new Tundra is a substantially stronger competitor than the present Tundra. It is larger and will have a 5.7L V8 available as its top powertrain. With a larger displacement than the Nissan Titan, it is expected the Tundra V8 will get about 325HP although power numbers were not provided. The Tundra 4×4 shown on the stand can tow 10,000 pounds which should be class-leading among half-ton pickups. But many people were expecting the new Tundra to be a breakthrough product. They were expecting a new benchmark for full size pickups. They were expecting Tundra to be 105% of a typical half ton pickup.
What they got was maybe 101% or 102%. Nice truck. But not as muy macho as the FT-X Concept Truck of 2004.
Styling Toned Down from FT-X Concept Truck
The new Tundra has much more expressive styling than the present Tundra but stops far short of the FT-X. When it is launched in early 2007, the new Tundra will be available in regular cab, Access Cab and Double Cab models. The Access Cab shown at Chicago has front-hinged rear access doors similar to the Dodge Ram Quad Cab.
The front end styling of the new Tundra is perhaps the most similar styling feature evolving from the FT-X. Not quite as brutish as FT-X, the new front styling has been telegraphed by grille treatments on the Tacoma, some Tundra models and even the Toyota truck logo.
Toyota is Hiding the Weenie with its Volume Numbers
Toyota says that they will sell about 200,000 Tundra pickups a year. Seems like they are underestimating the volume by quite a bit. Here’s the rationale. In 2005, Toyota sold about 126,500 Tundras in the USA. That volume came from a single assembly plant in Indiana where Tundra volume is shared with the Sequoia full size SUV. Toyota is adding a 2nd Tundra assembly plant for the new Tundra. The new plant is in the heart of pickup country in San Antonio, Texas. The new plant has a capacity well over 100,000 units so Toyota’s cumlative volume likely is well over the 200,000 units it is stating for the new truck. Sure, they may shift some Indiana volume from Tundra to Sequoia if full size demand firms up. More likely however, is that Toyota is only talking about half ton Tundras and that there is a three-quarter ton version hiding out there somewhere that they are not including in the volumes.
They say that there will be a year full of minor and major Tundra announcements during 2006, so we’d better stay tuned.
Toyota’s Threat to Segment Leader Dismissed
Anne Stevens, Chief Operating Officer of Ford’s North American Operations, has a vested interest in keeping sales of its super-successful F-Series at full throttle. Ford’s profits in North America depend largely on the success of F-Series. When asked by journalists at the Chicago Auto Show about the threat of the Tundra she said, “F-Series sold over 900,000 units in 2005 and we will not give up market leadership. Any new entry cannot threaten our position.” Of course, Ford execs have been trained not to name names, but Stevens would not even admit that Tundra would take even a minuscule bite out of F-Series hide. Well, of course, that’s wrong. Some folks will go from F-Series, the all new GMT900 Silverado and Ram full size pickups to the new Tundra. That fact is unavoidable. Ford and the others should admit that Toyota is a formidable competitor and that the gloves are off. They will be duking it out for each unit sold.