Good News for Toyota Fans
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.