Good News for Toy­ota Fans

4WDrive - - Around The Industry -

2017/2018 has been great for the Big Three with the in­tro­duc­tion of the Chevy Sil­ver­ado, GMC Sierra, Ram 1500, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado, and Jeep JL. Toy­ota’s big news was a snorkel for Ta­coma and some new shocks on Tundra and 4Run­ner. Bum­mer. How­ever, there is a glim­mer of hope on the hori­zon - and it’s not a sun­set, but in­stead a new day from the land of the ris­ing sun. Mike Sweers was trans­ferred last June to lead a team of 42 Amer­i­can en­gi­neers, the big­gest Amer­i­can team ever, to Amer­i­can­ize Toy­ota trucks.

Pick-ups are a rar­ity in Ja­pan and de­vel­op­ing one is a for­eign con­cept to Ja­panese en­gi­neers. It’s lit­tle things like the gap be­tween the tail­gate and the fen­der. “When the tail­gate goes down, and you’re haul­ing loose ma­te­rial in the back, this beau­ti­ful fit and fin­ish back there looks great un­til you fill the tail­gate lip with ma­te­rial and you close it,” Sweers said. “It dam­ages the tail­gate and now you have a very up­set cus­tomer.”

Or the fact that a North Amer­i­can might haul a load of mulch dur­ing the day and then take his wife out for din­ner that night. “No one here (ed - in Ja­pan) can com­pre­hend such a thing: ‘You put your wife in a truck you worked in to­day?’ “he said. “When you say it out loud it even sounds kind of strange.”

Toy­ota has been rolling out its Toy­ota New Global Ar­chi­tec­ture (TNGA) one seg­ment at a time - so far for Prius and Camry. The goal is to cre­ate cars and trucks that are lighter and sim­pler to build. The re­designed Tundra, Ta­coma, Se­quoia and 4Run­ner will ride on this new ar­chi­tec­ture.

They re­al­ize that they need to build trucks that are greener, with more power and func­tion­al­ity, and are more aero­dy­namic but still look rugged. On top of that, elec­tri­fi­ca­tion is a once-in-acen­tury rev­o­lu­tion that Toy­ota has to in­cor­po­rate.

Where is that glim­mer of hope I promised? They want to keep the Ta­coma at the num­ber one spot in sales glob­ally, and rec­og­nize the strength of the new play­ers in the mid-size mar­ket. And while Toy­ota has been quiet about ex­act de­tails, it’s clear that they are mov­ing for­ward and we could see a re­designed Tundra on the TNGA as early as next year. And they rec­og­nize that the Tundra’s 5.7L V-8 in­tro­duced in 2007 is not go­ing to com­pete with the Big Three, which sug­gests a bumper to bumper new Tundra an­nounced in 2019 and avail­able as early as 2020.

That glim­mer on the hori­zon is Ja­pan’s ac­knowl­edge­ment that they need to make it or break it next year, and they have all the pieces in play to make it.

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