Toyota dealers have been crying for more Tacomas and now they’ll finally get some relief. The Japanese automaker has struggled to crank out enough of the segment-leading midsize pickup at its Texas and Mexico factories, even with years of overtime. Now, thanks to the partnership announced last week with Mazda, Toyota North America CEO Jim Lentz is prepared to turn on the spigot to fend off midsize pickup challengers.
Toyota will build a $1.6 billion U.S. auto plant at a site to be chosen in a 50-50 partnership with Mazda that nets each of them 150,000 vehicles a year in additional capacity. Production at the plant is to start in 2021. Although Toyota will make its compact Corolla sedan at the U.S. plant, it can now use a different Mexican plant under construction to make Tacomas rather than the Corollas it was originally slated to produce. The new strategy helps Lentz solve a major piece of a complicated puzzle: getting Toyota’s U.S. car/truck balance in sync with consumers who have turned away from bread-and-butter sedans such as the Corolla and the Camry for crossovers such as the RAV4, Highlander and all-new C-HR subcompact. Read more