Are Robots Behind Perceived Drop in Toyota Tacoma Build Quality?

2013_TMMBC_10_Anniversary_004 II

By Tim Esterdahl

If you visit any Toyota Tacoma forum, there is usually at least one thread discussing the build quality of the current generation versus previous models. For many, the location of where the pickup truck is built remains a point of discussion (some wish it was still built in California, others want it to go back to Japan). However, what if robots are to blame?

According to Automotive News, Toyota says it is changing its production methods. Instead of adding more robots — the industry trend — Toyota is adding more humans. The idea is humans are better at spotting issues and improving the production process.

Toyota plants used to have many craftsmen skilled in the ways of building automobiles and improving production. Over time these "gods," or "Kami-sama," were lost due increased reliance on robots. But that might be changing. Toyota intends to grow a new workforce of skilled craftsmen.

The use of humans to improve production is actually a fundamental part of "kaizen," popularly known as continuous improvement and otherwise known as the Toyota way. This production philosophy was a big part of the reason why the Toyota brand became synonymous with quality for many years. In many cases, craftsmen would suggest production improvements, and the changes would happen quickly instead of taking months and/or years to be implemented. This resulted in a better overall quality through direct and immediate feedback from the production team.

During the massive growth of Toyota around the turn of the century, production moved away from people in favor of robots. These robots certainly allowed Toyota to increase production; however, there may have also been a greater cost. Critics of Toyota, and even Toyota's current President Aiko Toyoda, point to the growth and production changes as the underlying problem behind the unintended acceleration issue and how solutions and information were disseminated.

With production changing and Toyoda's desire to return to a focus on quality, Toyota has also announced a three-year freeze on building new car plants. This should potentially give the company sufficient time to make changes.

Many Tacoma forums, like TacomaWorld.com, have noted a drop in quality in the second-generation pickup as a result of the decision to change production locations several years ago. The truck was first built in Fremont, Calif., before being moved to San Antonio, Texas. Some say the trucks built in California had fewer issues than those built in San Antonio. The reality is more likely that those issues have little to do with location, but rather more to do with timing.

The second-generation Tacoma was conceived and built during the previously mentioned massive Toyota growth period. During this period when robots replaced humans, Toyota was focused on being the No. 1 automaker in the world and less about being the automaker with the highest quality. So could it be that robots are to blame for quality concerns about the Tacoma? Certainly Toyota seems to be implying yes, but experts like J.D. Power don't necessarily have the data to support that thesis yet.

If the craftsmen had played a larger role in the current-gen Tacoma, it makes sense that the truck would likely have a higher quality record. But don't get us wrong. We aren't saying the Tacoma has poor quality. Rather, there seems to be a large group of midsize Toyota truck fans out there who believe the drop in quality between the Toyota pickups of the 1980s and the current generation of Toyota pickups are happening for a reason. And they may have a point.

In the end, we won't know the full impact of Toyota's production switch and process improvements for several years. No doubt, there will be more data to come.

Manufacturer images

Tacoma robot shot II

Toyota San Antonio 5 II

 

Comments

Welcome Tim,

congrats on your first article!!

Robots are machines; they do only what they are programmed to do. The robots are spec'd out by people, purchased by people, installed by people, programmed by people, and maintained by people.

If it does turn out that the robots have a role in quality lapses, then a close examination of the people involved with them is in order.

Sorting out quality can be a tough issue. A robot is only as good as the programming it is given. In many respects it can be superior to a human because it can perform exact repetitive tasks more consistently. Quality would be affected if the parts it is working on are inconsistent and/or the robot needs calibration.
Humans can make adjustments or spot problems a robot can't but are we talking about Engineer rolls versus front line assembly workers? The other point is outsourced parts.

Problems with how slow Toyota dealt with the SUA issue have more to do with corporate bureaucracy and a linear top down structure.

Giving front line workers more say in production "stop the line" power is not a new concept.

Toyota is engaged in a unionisation battle in Canada and VW is fighting unionisation in the USA. The cynical side of me sees this as a way to improve front line morale as well as give them more power in the workplace without the corporate burden of a rigid union structure.

Makes one wonder........

Definitely a possibility. With a automated production line and fewer points of inspection you have a chance that issues in the frame, the body, axles etc, and more and more is added on the line these issues get concealed. Worse, if there is something out of spec with the truck, then that can become a growing problem as the truck ages.

Also, and Toyota pointed this out too, when you use robots you fire or don't hire people, and usually when laying off workers the least experienced are the first to go. But if you don't have any young people working for you, then as your workforce ages out it will be harder and harder to find experienced workers. This means that you can hit a skills shortage and the only solution is either expensive and long duration training programs, or paying for older workers to stay around.

We have that problem in America right now. As blue collar jobs were disparaged as "out of date" and more and more kids went to school for business and science, fewer and fewer joined the trades. So the trades are facing shortages in places they haven't seen before. Where as previously a skilled tradesman had been working at the job since graduating high school, or even dropping out, today you have people who have little to no first hand experience and companies with no desire to be someones first job in the trades.

After owning a 2005 and a 2011, I certainly see a decline in quality. Not to mention they're waiting a decade+ to redesign the Tacoma. If Ford would bring the Global Ranger here I'd drop my Mexi-Taco in a heartbeat!

Is this perceived quality, or actuall quality? Have the number of issues actually gone up? I ask because Toyota is selling a ton of Tacomas these days so their more people to complain. Also the internet tends to blow up small issues.

The "perceived" quality problems with the frames rusting have nothing to do with robots and everything to do with poor material choices.

Click bait!

This isn't about toyota switching back to manual labor, it is about how teaching workers the manual labor process they can be more efficient in their human-machine partnership!

There is no way that Toyota would ever be able to cost effectively produce 10 million cars a year that people could actually afford!

Geez, is there no decency or thought put into what is written anymore?!

My very 1st new vehicle was a 1988 Taco! First year of the V6! Had a 5-speed standard! That thing rusted out & became Swiss Cheese in no time! Never again!

You must realise much of the tooling is old. This will occur when manufacturers push the limit with the existing tooling.

It's sort of like dropping a new engine in a rust bucket.

Toyota will have to look at other areas for improvement, but can't see this occurring as the new Hilux/Tacoma is coming out soon.

The automated equipment can only do so much, but if the tolerances of the material presented to the robots is pushing the limits, then you will have quality issues.

This new robotic equipment isn't for the Tacoma as well. It is being put into place for the next model.

Toyota should be able to iron out some of the inconsistencies with additional manpower in the shorter term.

Nice first article Tim! They definitely need more production capacity for Tacos and Tundras. i hope the next gen will sort out the compaints of this gen Taco. Being around them constantly everyday i gotta say i dont hear of too many issues with them. and trust me i would hear about them if they occurred often! lol

I LOVE IT when the commenters point to the frame recall!!! PLEASE tell me when in history has ANY manufacturer stepped up to PAY to replace frames for customers with a 13 year old truck!!!!?? I'll gaurantee you GM isnt repairing or replacing cabs on the early 2000's trucks that are all rusted out.... OR ford isnt replacing beds that rot out in the same amount of time NOR is dodge/ram/fiat/chrysler whoever with their rotting out beds. Its HILARIOUS to me how Toyota says hey theres a defect and we'll fix it! then they haters say they suck for fixing it LOL....... humans are so funny

@Big Al

1. "You must realise much of the tooling is old."

That's a mighty broad brush! What sort of tooling? Do you mean ALL of it?

Please provide citation for number one.

2. "This will occur when manufacturers push the limit with the existing tooling."

Duh!!! Every shop has specifications for tooling and replacement.

The human eye catches more errors then a robot ever will. Build quality is every employees duty and expectation when they build a car, van and or truck.

Every manufacturer has this issue, even for ATV's, snowmobiles, scooters', etc.

@Derek Elias

I don't think that manufacturers are looking for robots to find errors.

In my experience the goal was to use machines to minimize the number of repetitive tasks done by human workers.

Because a human worker has experience and judgment, or can learn those things, we use humans in fabrication or assembly of rare or unique or highly configured products.

@ Lou, anything is possible. I still hesitate to put Toyota's woe's on robots or even human assembly. Everything I've seen people complain about or recall related has zero to do with line assembly or robotic welds. It can nearly all be traced to the bean counting department. Thinner rust prone metals, thinner cheaper interior fabrics and floor coverings, cheaper plastics, cheaper electronics, rusted frames etc. It really doesn't matter who's assembling it. When you're putting together cost restricted junk parts, they're still junk.

This robot vs. human, USA vs Japan vs whoever assembly stuff has little to do with the longevity of the particulars. Longevity and Quality are based on costs up front plain and simple. And you can tell when a company is either being cheap, or in serious trouble. Chevy-GM is a case study in this area. The entire Toyota thing is completely reminiscent of Chevy-GM 800 and 900 trucks. They went on a cost cutting mega spree with ultra cheap metal-steel materials everywhere as well as interior materials, electronics, paints, frame coatings, engine internals etc etc. It's damaged their reputation which literally may not recover in today's world. Even the loss of their heavy duty straight axle in the late 80's was a sad bean counting measure.

Thinking way back, it's like Ford was in the 1970's with rusted bodies and failed transmissions. That took many years to rebuild as well. Ford's poor reputation in the late 70's and early-mid 80's was rightly deserved. Fortunately for Ford, there wasn't the internet and a 24 hour news cycle then. Fair or not, Chevy-GM & Toyota don't have such luck. If anything positive, it may sway manufacturers from the craptastic cost cutting that once defined them. Future new manufacturers as well. The Big 5 names Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan will have a tough enough time as it is going towards the 2100 mark. They can't afford cost cutting and cheap'ish reputations any longer. None of them will last. Think about the challengers of the pervious 100 years. There will be far more in the future. Only the single strongest nameplate will survive.

One can blame it on unions and greed, shareholders and profits (greed) or ceo's with asinine paychecks (greed). It's all the same in the end. Greed is like sin. Great for a season, deadly in the very end. The strongest nameplate will live on. That's a fact. I hope it's Ford, secondly I'd hope for Chevrolet. Yet who knows.

"...Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge, Toyota and Nissan will have a tough enough time as it is going towards the 2100 mark. They can't afford cost cutting and cheap'ish reputations any longer. None of them will last. Think about the challengers of the pervious 100 years. There will be far more in the future."

@FordTrucks1

One hundred years is a pretty long time in branded products. Even names like Smith&Wesson and Winchester went through some pretty tough times, corporate reorganization and ultimately neither firm is the same today as it was when I was a boy, much less a century ago.


You wrote, none of them will last...there will be far more (challengers) in the future...

I disagree about the number of new automakers. Today the world is flooded with automakers and plants. It was even worse 20 years ago.

You will actually see fewer car companies even 10 years from now, much less in a century. There won't be enough investor interest in building surplus plant capacity--there's too much already.

Can you picture Africa being the car making capital of the world in 20 years? I can't.

However, no one would have looked at Korea or Japan even 80 years ago and correctly predicted the coming of Honda or Toyota or Hyundai.

People seem to forget that if you fire all the workers and install robots in their place who is going to buy all the products when no one has any jobs left?

Just because you can does not mean you should.

I would rather employ people than to continue taking away jobs.

Problems are lack of real world testing, more and more electronics and very poor engineering, for years trucks rust around fenders and rocker panels do they improve the panels in these areas nope, make them lighter to save weight for fuel economy, then load them up with more and electronics, the other issue is we the customer buy it........we easily get wowed by shiny rims and fancy navigation systems and not the body lines that aren't perfect or poor paint . For 50000 i want better.....we all should.

This should come as no surprise. Equally obvious is that Toyota shouldn't be the only one to blame here. If you follow such sites as TTAC.com or are just generally knowledgeable enough of basic business principles, you'd be familiar with a concept called decontenting, and how it exists as much across in the auto industry as it does anywhere else.

Open and shut case here. As has been well noted before: if they wanted to, they would, but they don't, so they won't. End of discussion.

Robots are not unionized and not seeking over the top compensation, so that gives them an economic advantage over humans. The left promotes science, which develops robots, while advocating for more entitlements, then they complain when robots take over human jobs. Perhaps the UAW should represent robots and drive the cost of running them up to make hiring people more cost-effective.

So how many robots does Toyota employ? Seems like people here keep telling me that Toyota provides more jobs than the Detroit automakers. I guess half of those "jobs" must be robots.

"People seem to forget that if you fire all the workers and install robots in their place who is going to buy all the products when no one has any jobs left?"

@Ram 4x4

Things change!

My grandfather lost the little jewelry store he owned because of the depression. He ended up plowing fields with a pair of mules and a single-bladed plow to take care of his family.

Someday people will have work that is BETTER than working in an assembly plant. My grandmother made all of her children's clothes by hand.

Today I can buy better stuff at Walmart or Target for almost nothing--nobody wants to go back to the old way.

I hope that my grandkids don't have to work at some of the lousy jobs I've had in my life. Maybe smart guys with computers will come up with something better for them to do.

@Alex
I definitely don't have a problem with robots doing the jobs that manufacturing workers used to do. Unlike Obama, I don't think we need to recover or bring back manufacturing jobs. Why not instead provide workers with the opportunities for the education they need to program or design robots.

Everyone chooses their career. If by chance someone wants to do a manufacturing job, that's fine, but they should't expect it to last forever. That's why I take issue with the UAW's whole attitude of entitlement and tactics that eventually destroy jobs. Yes manufacturing workers have the right to a decent wage. The problem with the UAW is it's a relic of "Motor City" and it is becoming less and less relevant. I would encourage all those whom Obama promises the return of manufacturing jobs to instead go get a degree that will pave the path to a good paying job. Believe me, it's worth it. It may not be easy, but it's better than being a political puppet of the liberal left wing whose wants to claim how many job's they've created.

@papa jim
I couldn't agree more. That's why when people bring up the whole auto worker job issue, it to me is ridiculous. Someone means to actually tell me that people want those type of jobs? I can't even begin to say how much of a difference it makes to have a job where I actually get to think, design and use my brain rather than perform mundane tasks all day long. I don't get it, but to each his own.

This post was written by Tim Esterdahl who runs tundraheaquarters, a Tundra fanboy site.

Yesterday on his site he was saying he heard Mark Williams is extremely biased for the big 3 and writes negative articles against Toyota.

After bragging that was going to get more positive coverage for Toyota on here, like clockwork, he is saying it is a "perceived" drop in quality and blaming it on robots.

PUTC needs to keep an eye on this guy as he is not unbiased at all and as an editor of fanboy site he has insulted you behind your back.

@Glenn: Being in Technology myself, I have to say, "Bunk". Your statement clearly shows that you know nothing about technology.

True, the old saw about GIGO--Garbage In, Garbage Out--is quite true, but if the trucks have been passing basic QA inspections to get out the door, it's not the fault of the programmers per sé; they've programmed all the right moves, the right voltages, etc. However, if you use a computer at all (and obviously you do since you typed your comment on one) you should know that the longer a computerized device is used the more likely little glitches will come in and make a tiny error that can cause it to perform wrong--close to correctly, but not... quite. Allow the machine to keep going and it creeps farther and farther out of spec until it starts dropping welds entirely or misplacing parts enough to affect the resultant product. This is not the programmer's fault, it's the nature of technology. You simply cannot rely 100% on devices correctly.

That said, people aren't much better; they get tired and start making their own mistakes. But those mistakes are usually caught much more quickly AND they don't go for days, weeks or even months without being detected or corrected. Sure, a few defects may get through, but it's not an endless stream of them as it can be with robots.

@Lou_BC: In general, I'll agree with your comment up top. However, "Humans can make adjustments or spot problems a robot can't but are we talking about Engineer rolls versus front line assembly workers?"

One of my 'factory' jobs I had wasn't as an Engineer, but I was required to calibrate and fine-tune many different types of mechanisms from hydraulic to mechanical to electronic. I had to ensure the different devices I calibrated operated within a tiny fraction of 1% of its rated specification, where falling out of spec could wipe out thousands and even millions of dollars worth of product or at a minimum produce product that itself would fall out of ordered spec.

Rarely was an entire production run rejected by the customer for out-of-spec components but that was because that ONE customer always ordered the tightest possible specifications on their parts. When they rejected an order we would follow up with a 100% measurement testing after recalibrating the testers and got so far that we had to build a faraday cage in which to run the QA test facility. Fortunately, those rejects were accepted happily by less-stringent computer manufacturers.

Again, I wasn't an engineer as such, but I did have say on whether a manufacturing tool was ready for production or not.

@ RoadWhale™ - there are places for a person on the line to make decisions related to production but how many on an auto assembly line have that ability or skill?

"...some wish it was still built in California..."

It still is. It's called Baja California. Tijuana more like. And nothing wrong with that, but from what I understand, the drop in Tacoma quality is due to the fact that the San Antonio plant has to jump back and forth from also assembling Tundras on the same line. Overwhelmed, more like. The robots are not the problem. Scapegoat only.

You can expect the Tundra and Tacoma to each have their own plant in the near future to simplify the process. Logically the Tijuana, Mexico plant would take over all Tacoma assembly as it already builds 100% of Tacoma beds for North America. And that Tijuana plant builds all Crew cab V6 Tacomas. That's all they build there, about 60,000 trucks.

I hope Toyota does hire more people, and they get the people that want to, and need to work. It may not be the best or most enjoyable job, but it'll pay the bills and get some honest people off welfare. Robots are great for some things, but I rather buy/pay a little more for something hand made by people that are proud they have a job and what they made.

A person made an inference, as most of his commentary can be described as, that the Tundra and Tacoma quality problem is caused by the shared line.

I do think this person really doesn't have much of a clue.

In Thailand Nissan and Mistsubishi have been sharing a line to build two different pickups by two different manufacturers.

If Toyota is having a problem co-sharing a line with it's own products in the US, then the US automakers really do have a problem.

If a developing nation can succeed, why can't the US DiM?

http://www.caradvice.com.au/128502/mitsubishi-triton-nissan-navara-to-share-new-platform/

Although many people don't like the UAW they have the best workers at car assembly & manufacturing plants. That is why JD Powers lists of the top 10 most efficient plants in the US had 9 out of 10 being UAW plants. The Nummi factory was GM UAW workers, when it closed and moved to a poorly educated workforce in Texas everyone expected quality to drop and it did. Unlike 30 years ago unions and management have joint quality groups that improve training and problem solving. Blaming robots is funny, as they have the capability to recognize quality via computers. This is why the Germans wanted the union in Tennessee at VW, every VW plant but Tennessee has them. Dumbshit republicans politicians will make VW move their next expansion out of that state...they don't want to end up like Nisson in Mississippi with its garbage vehicles.

@papa jim
Back in the 90s I used to supervise the production line for a large jet engine. We used a significant amount of specialist tooling and support equipment.

We found that if a component was out of tolerance to any degree you could actually have difficulty assembling an engine or module.

The same would be in any form of engineering production work. The equipment used to assemble the pickups is new and the limits of tolerance they operate at might be different to the previous acceptable limits.

This is quite common in production work. Variations can lead to quality issues.

I would think the parts that are going to have to be more precise or the pickups will continue to have the quality issues.

Older tooling can produce components of lesser quality as they wear. Even with scheduled maintenance and replacement of components and consumbles.

Like any tool the older they get to worse they will perform.

Maybe Toyota has new and more efficient and manpower reducing tooling and equipment on the way for the next generation of the Hilux/Tacoma.

It is funny to see someone like Alex, a burger flipper, talk about manufacturing. I have butted heads with many about who has a better truck but this is something straight forward. I workers 31 years in machining, manufacturing and assembly and inspection Lou, they don't call engineers down to check quality issues, unless it is something real bad and continuous. I have machined Allison aircraft engines and worked on sheet metal press lines. Quality is checked by an the worker and backed up by an inspector,, usually stationed crucial line points. Every worker must check their work and are held accountable by a time & date stamp on every part that can be traced back to them. On machining an aircraft engine there is no room for error...life or death, and you sign your name to every part you make and hold to a tolerance as tight as .0002 of an inch. Sheet metal in trucks may not be as critical but the welds, splits in metal, up dings & down dings are to the buyer. Skill, experience & education are what is causing Toyota problems. For the anti-union uneducated rednecks on this site, Toyota in Japan is union, and very high quality. Not near as good with its employees in the US, especially the ones in the south who have such poor education and comprehension skills.

You would think if you were going to denegrate the intelligence of the anit-union rednecks with your pro-union gibberish. You would have at least checked your post for grammer. My god, are you 10?

@TJ

Considering that you write like an illiterate jerk, you probably do not realize how unpersuasive your argument is. I was cool with your viewpoint until you hammered the union line about non UAW shops and rednecks.

The only union shop I ever worked in was a union where the president of the union ended up in federal prison.

And please do us a favor! Drop the reference to JD Power. Their surveys are bought and paid for by the auto industry. Hardly an objective source.

And on that vein, the survey results for efficiency mean nothing to me as a consumer. I just want the best truck and the best price. Cannot give a sh*t less if some study shows who was more "efficient" doing it.

Toyota's problems stem from cost vs profit. They didn't make record profits by using the best materials. Sure, they always blame something or someone else. Accelerator pedal components manufactured in a different plan, frames manufactured by a different company, etc... Tell me fanbois, does Toyota not have quality control checking sample parts from every run?

@Big Al

1. "You must realise much of the tooling is old."

Do you mean ALL of it? Does your direct experience include a Toyota assembly line.

Please provide citation for number one, again.

Every manufacturer wants the finished assemblies to be on-spec, but the differences in execution range from surgical instrument spec, to Rolex watch spec, to dump truck spec.

The cost of building a Tacoma or Tundra to the tolerances appropriate to a Rolex watch would only be available at a Rolex kind of price. To me the Tacoma is already too pricey for its place in the compact truck market. How much more expense can you add without making that line irrelevant.

GM's new twins in the compact truck lines are dying to find out.

@papa jim
This new equipment was not designed to work with existing plant and equipment. I would dare to say that the Toyota factory in in the process of upgrading and getting ready for the new Hilux/Tacoma.

The Tacoma is almost an antique.

Why would Toyota invest into equipment for the past, when the future is what they are looking out for.

I would say much of the equipment is from the 90s and even some from the 80s.

Business is business. Have you ever had a business?

When I was 21 I started my own business, manufacturing wholesaling, ie, factory.

When you buy plant and equipment you don't buy for the past, you buy for the future.

When you buy vehicles you buy what is the cheapest over the life of a vehicle.

When you hire, you hire according to skillsets and asset value, not personality.

Business is business, read up on it.

@Big Al

I'm begging you: Please provide citation for number one, again.

You overloaded your hummingbird tail with your alligator mouth again.

Number two: I have more business/manufacturing experience in my sh*t than you have in your whole family. Don't go there.

Somebody said "people would really want those jobs" Wow man, pretty sure working an assembly line is better then working where I once worked in a chicken plant. For alot more money too. I bet you don't freeze your hands, or do reputicious stuff with your hands thousands of times a day. You're right, people just WANT jobs that take little effort, in a PERFECT envirement, for a GREAT amount of money. Lol.

@papa Jim, if they are more efficient, they can make it for less and your price CAN be lower. Or it can be overpriced GM trucks, with 8500 off of an. SLE truck, and still not sell that great.

- @Glenn: Being in Technology myself, I have to say, "Bunk". Your statement clearly shows that you know nothing about technology. -

RoadWhale: Being in technology myself, I have to say "Bunk" sums up your comment about me pretty well. I have spent the last 20 years in the technology business - as a designer for both desktop and mainframe systems, as a programmer, as a tester, in purchasing(including development of specifications and review of proposals), in systems security, and in maintenance - so yes, I know something about technology.

Don't agree with me? Fine - I have no problem with it. But you, my friend, need to grow up. I did not attack you or anyone else.

To the site moderators: it would be nice if you would add an ignore function. Posters who act like RoadWhale only drive traffic away from your site, not to your site.

@ Papa Jim and Hemi Monster

Bill Clinton started us down the road to become a service only country turning out backs on manufacturing.

It does not seem to have worked out to well. We have record numbers of people unemployed and yes you have to count the unemployed that the government ignores saying they are no longer looking for a job.

Every great nations rise has been through manufacturing. The fact is there are not and never will be enough service jobs and they will never pay high enough to support the middle class. The middle class is shrinking everyday as it is because of this poorly thought out services economy you think is so great.

We need to get back to manufacturing products again and we need to employ real people so that they can become part of the middle class.

Let me ask you one question. Since we have pretty much abandoned our manufacturing and sent it over seas has the price of anything came down with all that cheap labor?

Apple is the best example of how they exploit cheap labor from overseas and brag about their high prices and high profits. In my opinion people who support Apple and their products are complete idiots. After all how many billions of dollars does any one person or company really need?

Apple has so much cash they will never be able to spend it all in our life times or our children and grand children's life times.

I have nothing against anyone making a reasonable profit, but at some point the companies have to become responsible members of our country and work at keeping prices down.

Hell Apple is now trying to force a $100.00 price increase on their next iPhone. I guess having more money than any other company on earth is still not enough for that bunch of greedy bastards but they have enough stupid consumers who line up every year to buy the next over priced iPhone.

Once the middle class is gone I doubt you are going to like what is left of this country.

@BAF0 - The dramatic drop in Tacoma quality has everything to do with dramatically increased Tacoma production and the San Antonio plant understaffed, under-managed and running at full capacity. Toyota has 2 truck plants (in NA) so it's just a matter of time until the Tacoma and Tundra each have their own dedicated assembly plants. Common sense. And of course no new assembly plants are in the works.

http://www.2015toyotatacoma.com/increased-sales-toyota-tacoma/

@Ram 4x4

Take a look at what happened in Britain during the last 40 years. Please study that and let me know what you think. Trade unions and leftist politicians took over their shipbuilding industry and their auto companies. Today they have none left.

They built some of the most magnificent vessels in the world--gone. They were world famous for prized cars like the Rolls Royce and Bentley--gone.

They once had a real middle class--gone, gone gone.

Unionists and leftist politicians have ruined the once-great cities of the American industrial belt. You are headed straight for the British experience here unless you and those who think like you are prepared to make some changes, sir!

@papa jim--Rolls Royce and Bentley are not gone just owned by BMW and Volkswagen (both German). Tata Motors of India owns Jaguar and Land Rover and the Chines own what was once Rover. Yes the unions do share part of the blame, but so does the British Government that took them over. The biggest thing to hurt the British auto industry was their lack of quality. Anyone who has ever owned a British car or motorcycle knows about the legendary Lucas electronics and the constant need to tinker and adjust them. The Japanese auto and motorcycle companies started to become competitive by the 70's with much better reliability at a lower price. Even without the unions the British auto industry was doomed.

Hi Tim,

Interesting article, here is what I know: After a just so so Silverado, and three major Ford Lemons in a row – the last being the EcoBoost I will not own Ford or GM again. The Build quality on my 2014 Tundra is light years ahead of anything coming off the GM and Ford lines. The things that really stand out on the Tundra are: Engine, Transmission, Body Structure, Brakes, Frame, Suspension, Paint is way better, Seats have higher density foam, higher quality auto glass, the lack of constant electrical problems (like the EPS mess and engine controls).

Now here is the part I do not understand, the Tundra and Tacoma are made on the same line now. So why would the quality on a Tacoma be anything less than on a Tundra? Does it have more to do with components vs. final assembly?

I am not saying everything on the Tundra is “perfect”, there is “one” component that does not work correctly and my dealer and Toyota are trying to figure it out. That is “more” than Ford would ever do. Fortunately for me the one component has nothing to do with drivability or safety.

Randy

@papa jim
So how long has the Tacoma been produced for?

I'd put bet my balls there is a lot of equipment getting on.

Your question is quite naïve, especially if you claim to come from a family of suppliers of tooling to the automotive manufacturers.

@Very DiM
So, then if the Tacoma is having issue and the Tundra doesn't what does this indicate to you (and papa jim)?

The Tundra has more new tooling for it's 'redesign'.

What appears to be the most likely problem with the Tacoma?

Production numbers? No. Old tooling.

@Big Al--When you mentioned the age of the equipment it makes me wonder how old the equipment in the San Antonio plant is especially since that plant opened recently. I guess some of the equipment could have come from the Fremont, CA plant. I am sure that Toyota gets their moneys worth out of the any equipment they use in their plants. When you add the Tacoma production to the Tundra production that equipment gets a lot of use. I do agree with some of the other comments above that most of the defects on Toyotas are not due to the assembly but the outsourced components, but then this is true of most of the recalls from other manufacturers. I don't think it is fair to just single out Toyota since recalls have become a frequent occurrence with most manufacturers.



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