In Automotive News, Toyota USA President Yoshi Inaba answered some questions about Toyota, including offering some interesting tidbits about the Tundra. From Automotive News (subs. req’d):
Question: Why is the Tundra having only limited success against Detroit’s full-sized pickups?
Inaba’s Answer: Let’s face it. Tundra competes in a subsegment of full-sized pickups. It does pretty good. The simple situation is with the market collapsing and fuel prices going up, it hinders us from being more aggressive and not reaching the volume where we bounce from there. We are not disappointed. We are not 100% happy, but we are not discouraged.
Here’s what I think these comments mean.
In a sign that Toyota may abandon the regular cab, Toyota has decided to delay production of the 2012 Tundra regular cab until December. In years past, sources at more than one automaker have commented to me that the regular cab really only makes sense as a fleet vehicle – consumers, as a general rule, are more interested in double cabs and crew cabs, which means that the regular cab is one of the least popular configurations.
I also have it on high authority that Ford considered canceling the regular cab F-150 prior to the 2004 F-150 redesign, but relented because fleet buyers prefer that configuration. I have also been told – again by numerous sources at multiple automakers – that the cost of building a regular cab pickup is only slightly lower than the cost of building a double cab…which brings us back to the 2012 Tundra. It could be that, when the next generation Tundra debuts, a regular cab model is not available.
According to sources that attended this week’s dealer meeting, the 2012 Toyota Tundra will be offered with a special chrome package, similar to a chrome package that Ford offers on the XLT F150 (image below).
The 2012 Tundra Chrome Package will include:
- Chrome grille
- Chrome nerf bars/side steps
- Chrome door handles
- Special chrome wheels that, according to our sources, are somewhat ugly
As far as other changes/features, we’ve been told that the 2012 Tundra will
Yesterday, Ford announced plans to produce an eight speed automatic transmission. According to Mike Levine of PickupTrucks.com, it’s expected that the F-150 will receive this eight speed as soon as 2014. What’s more, Levine noted on Twitter that he expected “GM’s next-gen 2014 light-duty Silverado and Sierra will also offer an 8-speed transmission.”
We’ve been keeping a tally of possible and probable enhancements to the 2014 Toyota Tundra here, a list we’ve made based on comments given to us by sources, notes from news stories, etc. You’ll note that we don’t believe Toyota will be developing an 8-speed transmission for the 2014 Tundra, and quite frankly I’m not sure that Ford’s announcement changes this assessment. While 8 speeds are clearly better than 6, the relative improvements are small.
According to Ford engineer Joe Bakaj, an eight speed transmission boosts fuel economy “2 to 6 percent,” a substantial improvement to be sure, but is it worth the additional expense and complexity?
For the 6th time in as many years, the Toyota Tundra has won the JD Power Vehicle Dependability award in the large truck category. According to the JD Power website, the Tundra came in first with a rating of 4.5 out of 5, the F-150 came in second with 4 out of 5, and the Ram 1500 came in 3rd with a 3.5 out of 5 rating.
Amazingly, GM’s trucks had different dependability scores despite being essentially identical (the Chevy scored 3.5 out of 5, the GMC just 3 out of 5). It’s worth noting here that JD Power’s award is based on vehicle surveys, which, like any metric, has some limitations…but more on that in a minute.
Here’s a complete description of the JD power process, as well as some funny quotes from Ford, Dodge, and GM truck owners who just can’t accept Toyota’s dominance.