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Toyota starts production of Tacoma in Texas


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Toyota starts production of Tacoma in Texas

Christine Tierney / The Detroit News

San Antonio, Texas -- Toyota Motor Corp. managers are renowned for collecting reams of data to predict market trends, but the Japanese automaker's truck plant stands here as a symbol of one time when Toyota got it wrong.

Its full-size Tundra pickup never sold as well as Toyota expected four years ago, when it opened the assembly plant dedicated solely to Tundra production.

But after the devastating industry downturn of 2008 and 2009, Toyota decided to build a smaller truck here as well, its Tacoma, and the company marked the start of its production here Friday.

Proclaiming "It's Tacoma Day in Texas," Gov. Rick Perry joined local officials, senior Toyota executives and plant workers at the factory for a brief but lively midmorning celebration.

Toyota has hired 1,000 new workers and invested $100 million to produce Tacomas on the same line as Tundras, bringing the total investment in the plant to $1.4 billion.

The factory now employs 2,800 "team members," as the workers are called, including the original hires who were retained even when Toyota halted production in San Antonio for three months in late 2008.

Toyota stopped making the Tacoma and other vehicles in Fremont, Calif., after General Motors, its partner in New United Motor Manufacturing Inc., quit the venture as part of its bankruptcy in 2009.

Toyota said last August that it would transfer Tacoma production to the Texas plant, which was running well below its production capacity. Output of Tacomas in Texas began a month ago.

By making the Tundra and Tacoma on the same line, Toyota will be able to respond better and faster to the market's demands, said Jim Lentz, president of Toyota Motor Sales, the U.S. sales subsidiary based in Torrance, Calif.

When gas prices spiked in 2008, demand for thirsty full-size trucks plunged, while demand for midsize, more affordable trucks held up better, he said.

Toyota's Tacoma starts at just over $16,000; the Tundra starts above $23,000 and the largest, most powerful versions cost more than $40,000.

But demand for full-size pickups is starting to rebound. GM and Ford Motor Co., the dominant players in this segment, are reporting strengthening demand for their big pickups.

"We're seeing a slight increase in construction and in demand from municipalities and small businesses, and that's helping to rebuild this segment," said Rebecca Lindland, an analyst at IHS Automotive in Lexington, Mass.

Sales of Toyota's Tundra are up 20 percent this year, while Tacoma sales are flat, Lentz said.

Referring to industrywide sales of full-size pickups, he said, "I don't think they'll be back to the 2 million mark, but maybe to 1.6 million, 1.8 million."

For the year, Lentz predicted Toyota will sell about 205,000 pickups in the United States: 100,000 Tundras and 105,000 Tacomas.

Toyota also produces 50,000 Tacomas in a plant on the outskirts of Tijuana, Mexico.

From The Detroit News: http://www.detnews.com/article/20100807/AUTO01/8070322/1148/auto01/Toyota-starts-production-of-Tacoma-in-Texas#ixzz0w7e55fXj

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Toyota launches production of Tacoma at San Antonio plant

by Sam Abuelsamid (RSS feed) on Aug 10th 2010 at 8:28AM

Production of the Toyota Tacoma resumed in July after tooling was moved from its former home at NUMMI in Fremont, California to San Antonio, Texas. The Texas factory is also home to the full-size Tundra which has not lived up to sales expectations, leaving lots of extra capacity.

Adding Tacoma production in Texas cost Toyota $100 million and brought 1,000 new jobs to the facility. Toyota spent about $1.3 billion on the San Antonio plant and tooled it up for 300,000 units a year. However, the Tundra has never even hit half that mark. With all of Toyota's North American pickup production now consolidated at San Antonio, the plant could finally come close to its capacity.

Toyota Launches Tacoma Production in San Antonio

About 1,000 Jobs Added to Produce Toyota's Best-Selling Pickup

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (August 6, 2010) – Production of the Tacoma pickup truck began last month but was marked today with a ceremony at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. (TMMTX). The $100 million investment boosts total investment to $1.4 billion.

Texas Governor Rick Perry joined San Antonio community leaders, team members, suppliers as well as Toyota officials including Toyota Motor Corporation Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi.

Tacoma's production move to TMMTX was announced a year ago and adds 1,000 jobs. Today, over 2,800 team members are employed at TMMTX and the plant is fully positioned to ramp up Toyota's pickup truck production for the American market.

"The San Antonio plant has shown a great deal of resilience during the recession and is fully prepared to ramp-up Tacoma production," said Chris Nielsen, TMMTX president. "By building Tacoma in Texas, we are able to consolidate pickup truck production in the United States under one roof, allowing us to fully utilize the plant's capacity."

During the economic downturn, TMMTX was one of several Toyota plants impacted by poor sales. However, TMMTX retained its workforce instead of laying off, in order to strengthen team members' skills and improve plant processes.

About Toyota

Toyota (NYSE:TM) established operations in North America in 1957 and currently operates 14 manufacturing plants, including one under construction. There are more than 1,800 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealerships in North America which sold more than 2.05 million vehicles in 2009. Toyota directly employs more than 35,000 in North America and its investment here is currently valued at more than $23 billion, including sales and manufacturing operations, research and development, financial services and design. Toyota's annual purchasing of parts, materials, goods and services from North American suppliers totals more than $25 billion. Toyota currently produces 12 vehicles in North America, including the Avalon, Camry, Corolla, Highlander, Matrix, RAV4, Sienna, Sequoia, Tacoma, Tundra, Venza and the Lexus RX 350.



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