By Tim Esterdahl
Toyota's headquarters move to Plano, Texas, has local dealers there hopeful executives will see firsthand what a real truck culture looks like and spur more engineering and production investment in the company's Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks.
According to The Dallas Morning News, Texas dealers have been telling Toyota to invest more in its pickups and bring a diesel Tundra to the market. With the headquarters move, many dealers are improving their dealerships and plan to put pickup trucks front and center when Toyota executives visit.
Texas' truck culture has fueled the sales success of Toyota's rivals, with Ford, Chevrolet and Ram making huge profits in the state. It is the largest full-size truck market in the U.S. and the world, and vastly different from California, where Toyota's headquarters have been for several decades.
"California is such a different state and not heartland America," said Rusty Gentry, general manager of Toyota of Plano, in The Dallas Morning News article. "When they see all the different grades of trucks that people here drive — from the guy who just needs a work truck to the white-collar professional in a luxury pickup — that could help our truck."
Once Toyota's relocation is complete, Texas dealers hope to have more face-to-face time with executives. It's a common corporate practice for Toyota execs who live locally to pay impromptu visits to dealerships located near corporate headquarters.
Toyota executives are likely to see more diesel-powered heavy-duty pickups in Texas than they did in California. Toyota doesn't currently offer such a pickup, nor has it officially announced that it will — although rumors are circulating about Toyota using the same 5.0-liter V-8 Cummins that the next Nissan Titan will have.
Additionally, having Toyota's headquarters and massive truck plant in the same state could help the company get a stronger foothold in the full-size American truck segment.
"This should be good news for dealers because Toyota has been trying for years to show that it is effectively an American brand," Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Cars.com, told The Dallas Morning News. "And this move to Texas will be a pretty big step in that direction."
If Toyota dealers are successful in convincing executives that trucks should be a bigger part of the company's future plans, there is still the matter of a multimillion (maybe billion) dollar investment in manufacturing. Currently, Toyota's San Antonio truck facility is running at full capacity.