Toyota Leaves Pickup War To Big Three; Diesel Tundra Talk Shelved
October 9, 2008
Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., recently announced that he will not lead Toyota into a full-fledged sales war in the full-size pickup segment, despite its recent 0% financing offers. Detroit's Big Three are all looking to make pushes with their full-size pickups soon, and Lentz does not want Toyota to fight with a disadvantage: "I don't want to get stuck in the middle of Ford and Chevy battling for the No. 1 truck this year, and Dodge launching the Ram."
Ford and Dodge are launching redesigned models of their flagship pickup trucks for the 2009 model year. Despite the stale auto sales environment, Chevy managed to sell 50,428 Silverados last month, off a slight 3.9 percent compared with sales in 2007 for the month. On the other hand, Toyota saw Tundra sales fall 60.7 percent, while the Ford F-150 dropped 41.6 percent and the Dodge Ram dropped 30.9 percent. Toyota had hopes to achieve a monthly sales figure of 20,000 Tundras for 2008, but managed to move just 7696 trucks in September.
Segment forecasts were as low as 1.5 million units for the year, leading to speculation that the pickup fight could get desperate. Lentz has also acknowledged that many past Tundra buyers, who bought one for image or as commuters rather than for work, are walking away from the segment, and that "there are a lot of substitutions." Tundra production at Toyota's Texas and Indiana truck plants has already been slowed.
With concern over the shrinking pickup truck segment, Lentz also confirmed that development of a diesel engine for the Tundra has been shelved for the time-being. Toyota is currently determining whether it is worth it to enter the diesel truck segment.