Toyota's Bob Carter Talks About Tacoma and Tundra

Toyota's Bob Carter Talks About Tacoma and Tundra
By Mark Williams

Toyota’s trucks are experiencing turbulent times. Sales of the Tundra are off by more than 50 percent and Tacoma production is moving from its West Coast base to San Antonio to take advantage of the slack in Tundra production and demand. But last week was a good time to catch Bob Carter, group vice president and general manager of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., to talk trucks at the State Fair of Texas in Dallas.

With GM’s bankruptcy and reformation, the automaker pulled out of the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. joint-venture plant with Toyota in Fremont, Calif. Not long after that, Toyota announced it would shutter all of its Northern California manufacturing operations, meaning the end of NUMMI, and moving Tacoma production to the plant in San Antonio, where the Tundra is assembled. San Antonio is producing well below its originally estimated 200,000 Tundras annually, meaning that there’s plenty of capacity to produce the Tacoma on the same production lines as its bigger brother as early as the next year.

Asked if this was the plan all along, Carter was quick to point out that Toyota made every effort to try to keep the NUMMI plant running in California. But, he continued, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that a state-of-the-art plant like San Antonio has the flexibility to accommodate this turn of events.

“Did we plan for all this?” Carter asked? “No way, but we did try to anticipate as many different scenarios in the development and layout of the San Antonio plant as possible.” He noted that it’s no coincidence there won’t be too many changes needed on the plant floor to accommodate both trucks on the same production line. And who knows, he asked. Having Tundra suppliers on site could open unanticipated efficiencies that might, in the end, make the next generation Tacoma stronger, more efficiently built, or possibly less expensive.

Carter also noted that instead of having to let people go from the San Antonio line because of lackluster full-size truck sales, they’ll be adding several hundred employees to the plant in order to accommodate the added Tacoma volume. Of course, those are jobs that were lost at NUMMI.

“We don’t have any doubt the market for these trucks will come back,” Carter said. “Will it be as big as it was several years ago? Probably not, but people will be coming back to pickups, large and small.

“Sure, it won’t be soon, but we’re guessing it’ll be between 6 to 12 months after the car segment has fully recovered to strong levels—and we want to make sure we’re there and ready to go.”

Carter said Toyota wants to be ready when the tide turns, which means they’ll want their Tundra chipping away at Ford and Chevy market share as soon as possible, as well as looking to Tacoma to continue its segment leadership.

Could there be some interesting experiments coming from one plant building both midsize and full-size pickups? Might the next generation of both products share the same base platform, similar to the approach Nissan has followed for the current Titan half-ton and Frontier midsize pickup? Or what about a smaller Tacoma? Just think of the possibilities.


It's a win for Toyota moving their manufacturing off the left coast. They should definitely realize some cost savings.

What I would like to see is the SEMA Tacoma from a couple years back with a small V8 in it make it into production on the current Tacoma model.

One can wish..

I second the smaller Tacoma idea , and make a regular cab long bed too (7 foot bed or longer) , I could then buy a Toyota again .

No don't make the Tacoma smaller, it's already just a tad small, I'd like to see it grow just a bit.

Question: Would sharing a platform between the Tundra and Tacoma rule out any hope of a 3/4 and 1 ton Tundra? Oh, and note to Bob Carter- Toyota makes good trucks, but the styling is TERRIBLE!

Diesel Tacoma!!

"small V8"

This isn't something I'd like to see. I want to see a smaller Tacoma, and it seems like adding a V8 would mean having to increase the size of the engine bay, which in turn would mean increasing the size of the vehicle.

Of course, like you said DB, that's a pipe dream anyway. If anything we're going to end up seeing a lot more 4 cylinder variants of the Tacoma in the future.

I can, however, see the Tundra's styling working on the Tacoma, at least as it is shown in this post. For some reason, that white mixed with the camera angle makes the styling on that truck look almost appealing to me.

I don't think the Tacoma needs a v8. All truck manufacturers should be producing small diesels for their trucks. I definately think Toyota should flesh out their truck line with heavy duty pickups. Commercial fleet buyers aren't as brand loyal as regular truck buyers. They're looking for capability, reliability, and cost effectiveness. Toyota has demonstrated they can excel in all of those areas and I think Toyota heavy dutys would sell well.

The only reason I won't consider the Tundra for my next truck purchase is the lack of headroom. I'm 6'6" and my head touches the headliner in the Tundra. I wish they'd make the seat hieght adjustable.

A smaller Tacoma?? Come on now.. I'd buy a DIESEL Tacoma! Frickin' EPA..

Toyota Sucks.

Yeah, I noticed there was no mention of a diesel in the Tacoma. Heck you can't even get a manual transmission in a 2WD xtracab 4 cyl., and they wonder why sales are down.

Why not just buy a Dakota or Colorado?, I prefer a V8, not a wimpy V6 with a measly 236 horsepower

The point of the Tacoma is to have a small but capable truck. In years past they were the preferred small truck for most businesses that need cheap reliable transportation. Now they over priced luxury haulers. A bare bones ford ranger fits the needs of the consumer for much less... Mahindrina? is new toyota truck. This is a niche that toyota needs to compete in.

I Think that IF Toyota wanted to take a good share of the Chevy and Ford market, they should give SERIOUS consideration to developing a 3/4 & 1-Ton Work Truck to compete with the F-350 and the 2500HD. Put a Diesel in it and a HD Auto Tranny! Toyota can do it if anyone can. Toyota trucks are as (if not MORE!) depenable as Ford, GM and Dodge. What do ya say Toyota!

I just traded my unreliable 2007 Silverado LSX 4WD for a Tundra. It's a great vehicle for hauling my boat, and should do fine plowing.

I took the toyota chalange for myself 15 years ago and never looked back. I have to say though I am considering going shoping for an american mid size again. My 2005 TRD off road is on its 3rd manual trani. @ 100K and customer service is not good. They have become one of the big 3 and just dont care about customers the way they use to.

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