With the complete redesign of its Tundra pickup, Toyota has both the challenge and the opportunity to grow sales of the truck in the face of stiff competition from the domestic nameplates.
The first redesign of the Toyota Tundra since 2007, the truck is much improved, offering upgrades in fuel economy, safety, comfort, handling and off-road capability. And Toyota has proved with its segment-leading Tacoma midsize pickup that it can compete against the likes of Ford and Chevrolet in the truck market.
Getting the Tundra into the game is the job of Lisa Materazzo, group vice president of Toyota Division Marketing at Toyota Motor North America. Materazzo recently sat down with Trucks.com to discuss the automaker’s truck strategy. Here’s an edited version of that conversation.
What’s your overall strategy with 2022 Tundra and Toyota pickup trucks?
Our goal is to leverage the heritage we have with body-on-frame vehicles. I mean, we’ve been a significant player with the Tacoma in the midsize truck market. We dominate there with incredible market share. The new generation Tundra builds on that by getting into the heart of the half-ton, full-size pickup truck market. We now have two very capable trucks.
The new Tundra doesn’t have a V8 option or a regular cab. How much of the full-size truck market does the new Tundra cover?
There’s a pretty significant part of the half-ton market that’s left. Think about how the half-ton truck market has changed over the years and the dynamic of the buyers. They are a different type of truck buyer. Now granted, there is the work use application, and the truck has to be capable. People are towing, and they’re hauling. They expect that, and we have that covered. That’s almost your cost of entry. But beyond that, we see that buyers are looking to do more with their trucks. There’s a significant intro into the segment from a variety of SUV categories. And it’s led by midsize SUVs. So there’s in excess of 60,000 units each year or 60,000 people coming into the segment from SUV. They’re looking for additional capability, and they’re looking for additional features of the vehicle.
We have a great deal of the market covered. We have a variety of cab and bed configurations, including the eight-foot bed.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra will have 41 configurations considering body style, drive train, engine and the various trims. The domestic brands offer seemingly hundreds of configurations. Why less choice?
It is part of the strategy in terms of where we look to play in the market. We also look at where we have current success. With every vehicle we bring to market, it is a balance between coverage in the market, knowing the target audience and the number of configurations. There does come the point where there are so many configurations that a consumer trying to buy the vehicle they want at the dealership they want at the time they want gets complicated. We want to make sure that the vehicles are as easily accessible as possible. And, of course, we do tons of market research. So we can see across the segment, both qualitatively and quantitatively, where the buyers are and where the volume is. We triangulate where the buyers are, what we bring to the table as uniquely Toyota and where there’s the volume opportunity.
Do you think there is more room for growth in the full-size pickup truck market?
The full-size pickup truck market, in general, has been very stable. I would say that near-term chip issues aside, the industry is going to continue to see a strong segment but not a lot of growth.
Where will Tundra buyers come from?
It will be a combination of retaining existing buyers. As as you know, the truck hasn’t had a significant redesign in a while. So the Tundra buyers who have left us will see we have a strong product to get them back. They often left because they wanted something different, and we didn’t have a refreshed model for them. And I do think we have a vehicle now that can be competitive and conquest buyers from other brands.
Toyota is investing a lot of money in its truck factories, and the Tacoma is now getting old. Is that an indication that we will see a new Tacoma?
I am not going to talk about future products, but you know that we refresh our vehicles regularly, depending on market dynamics. So we might have something on the Tacoma, but nothing that I’m ready to talk about at this point.