Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that the Toyota Tacoma has been crushing the mid-size pickup truck class — for several years — in monthly and year-to-date sales. In fact, Toyota is on track to sell more than 200,000 Tacomas by year end, barring any unforeseen circumstances.
In 2017 the Tacoma was the class leader with a 44 percent market share grab and for 2018, so far, that number is 45 percent in a mid-size field that's likely to grow and certain to receive a lot of attention during the next 12 months as more trucks join the class.
According to Automotive News (subscription required), Toyota has big sales plans for the new 2020 Tacoma, using three factories to supply the almost-unquenchable consumer demand for the truck. So far this year, Toyota is selling an average of 20,000 mid-size pickups every month, that's a little less than double the Chevrolet Colorado, its nearest competitor. Toyota has been doing this by squeezing as much capacity as possible out of its main U.S. truck plant in San Antonio and making incremental upgrades during the last few years to its secondary plant in Tijuana, Mexico. But by next year, Toyota will bring online a whole new plant with a capacity to build about 100,000 pickups in the Mexican state of Guanajuato.
Astute readers of our sales reports will notice that the Toyota Tundra, also produced at the San Antonio plant, is not selling as well as its mid-size sibling. That's due to a conscious decision by Toyota to produce as many Tacomas in San Antonio as possible, which comes at the expense of Tundra production. With the decision to turn the new Guanajuato Corolla plant into a Tacoma plant, Toyota seems to be setting itself up to compete with the coming wave of new mid-size pickups: Think Ford Ranger, Jeep Scrambler and possibly something from Hyundai or China. If you're an optimist, you might hope that more Tacomas means Toyota will drop the prices a little bit. However, from the data we've seen that seems unlikely since Tacomas have highest average transaction prices along with the highest used-vehicle residual values.
The only risk posed by Toyota's three-plant strategy is placing two of them in Mexico, with higher import tariffs a possibility, looming North American Free Trade Agreement issues, a new Mexican president and U.S.-Mexico political tensions created by illegal immigration. Regardless, it seems like Toyota is making a long-term play and the Tacoma (and possibly its buyers) could reap the benefits.