opt for a composite bed, as with the Tacoma, nor show off any trick features
such as hidden bed storage, an AC outlet or adjustable tie-downs. The
show truck didn’t even have a bed liner but the bed design clearly
has 2-tier loading decks and slots for cargo dividers. Bed dimensions
are 78.7 inches long, 65 inches wide at the wheel wells, 50 inches between
wheel wells and 22.3 inches deep.
Persistent rumors indicate Toyota will develop a ¾-ton heavy-duty model off this platform and offer a diesel. Toyota officials have even given hints if not subtle confirmation. Lentz was quoted in a Bloomberg story that Toyota is studying the cost a diesel as well as a gas-electric hybrid for the new Tundra. But Nissan has also stated it wants a diesel, and surely Toyota won’t be the lone full-size truckmaker without a diesel. Also, Amstock said one of the engineers took a 5th-wheel trailer to campgrounds. Obviously a half-ton won’t tote a 5th-wheel, so the company must be planning for a heavy-duty model.
“It’s just another aspect of us trying to understand the market,” said Amstock in an interview with PUTC. “I wouldn’t read anything more than learning what the needs are. We’re still selling half-tons here and that’s what we’re focusing on in the short term.”
Luxury trucks are another hot segment but Amstock didn’t confirm any plans for a special edition.
“I’m not ready to say we’ll have an uber-luxury model or not. We’re almost doubling the model lineup from where we are, so I think you’ll see a very complete lineup,” he said.
Toyota dealerships won’t see the new Tundra until late December or early January, so Toyota promises to release more information about additional models and features. According to the Wall Street Journal, the company will embark on an aggressive campaign to educate consumers about the Tundra’s advantages and approach to building full-size trucks. The plans calls for consumer briefings and test drives at baseball parks, state fairs and agriculture shows.
In addition, Toyota will expand its NASCAR involvement to race in the Busch and Nextel Cup events. Currently Toyota runs in the Craftsman Truck Series but the Camry is testing for a 2007 debut. As everyone knows, the Big 3 don’t run NASCAR to sell Monte Carlos or Fusions. Rather, they want to appeal to the fans driving trucks and SUVs to the track. Toyota will also devote resources to its relationship with the bass-fishing community, sponsor Supercross and have a presence at truck equipment shows.
“We still have to earn it,” said Amstock. “This isn’t build a truck and they will come. We have to earn our credibility and respect for this truck. Investment in those properties is done in anticipation of increasing our exposure and awareness with consumers who typically may not know that much about us.”
The immediate shopper appears to be households where there’s a Camry or Lexus parked in the driveway next to an American full-size truck.
“Those customers certainly give us some opportunity,” said Amstock. “But you have to remember: car QDR (quality, dependability and reliability) doesn’t necessarily translate equally to truck owners. There’s another D: dependability.”
It also remains to be seen whether or not the new Tundra draws customers away from the hot-selling.
“There’s always some risk of cannibalism when you have a product lineup as deep as our,” said Amstock, who adds the full-size customer appears to be very focused and unlikely to cross-shop Tacoma. “But we do have a few things up our sleeves to keep the excitement going with Tacoma.”
The Tundra will be built at the current production facility in Princeton, Indiana, and a new $850-million assembly plant in San Antonio, Texas. The Texas plant has the capacity to build 800 Tundras per day, or one every 73 seconds. The second plant gives Toyota the capacity to build around 300,000 pickups a year, but the company hasn’t released sales goals.