Toyota Exec Tackles Two Pickups Built Under One Roof

Toyota Exec Tackles Two Pickups Built Under One Roof
By Mark Williams for

Christopher Nielsen, the first American president of Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, started his job at the end of June, just one week before the first Toyota Tacoma rolled off that assembly line for the first time.

“Getting this plant in shape to build both our pickup trucks has not been easy,” Neilsen said about TMMTX, which also builds the Tundra. “And getting the suppliers on board to have the needed parts and pieces ready as fast as possible has probably been our biggest challenge.”

Previously, Tacomas were produced at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, Calif. But after General Motors, Toyota’s manufacturing partner at NUMMI, announced in 2008 it was filing for bankruptcy, Toyota moved Tacoma production to the TMMTX plant outside San Antonio.

Nielsen credits much of the plant’s current success to having more than 20 manufacturing suppliers on site that partner with the build process. In fact, Nielsen said many of the suppliers stepped up and figured out a way to make Tacoma parts right alongside Tundra parts.

“I was part of the building team that erected this facility, and at that time we never dreamed this plant was going to be building our two pickups under one roof,” Neilsen said. “The plant has been through some tough times recently, but we never laid off a single employee.” Toyota shut down the production line at San Antonio from August to November in 2008.

“We had a lot of people doing a lot of painting throughout San Antonio,” Neilsen said. “Probably the best thing to happen around here is that we hired 1,000 extra workers to compensate for the extra Tacoma production.

The extra workers are run on two distinct shifts that produce 200,000 units per year.

Although having both its pickups in the same plant leaves Toyota somewhat exposed, Neilsen said there is some flexibility in case the full-size market comes back slower than the smaller midsize pickups.

For now, Tacoma continues to hold about a 40 percent share of the segment, while Tundra is just under 8 percent for the year. Naturally, the plant can play with the manufacturing mix between the two as needed, making changes to the vehicles’ product mix and trim levels.

When asked about any big changes he might look to institute, Neilsen replied, “We got the big-picture things right, but there were things we didn’t see coming. Still, our process has so much flexibility in it, we think we’ll be back in good shape in no time. ... We know the success of this plant is tied to the market, which is why we like the strategy of having our suppliers on site and the ability to move numbers from full-size to compact”.

When asked to choose his favorite pickup, Neilsen thought for a second and (diplomatically) noted he has three young sons, so it’s quite difficult not to like the CrewMax Tundra for all the sports and play time they like to enjoy. But after another pause, he wistfully gives a wry smile, simply stating he really likes the new DoubleCab Speedway Blue Tacomas.

“That’s a nice ride,” he said.

Quick TMMTX plant facts:

  • Size: 2.2 million square feet, or about 70 football fields
  • Number of suppliers on site: 21 (with an additional 1.8 million square feet)
  • Maximum plant capacity (2 shifts): 200,000 units
  • Only production stoppage: August 2008 to November 2008
  • Resumed 2nd shift: March 2010
  • Shift times: 6:30 a.m.-3:15 p.m.; 6 p.m.- 2:45 a.m.


Whats the big deal they are both dam near the same size .

although I agree w/ the first post they are still totally different trucks for the most part.

I can see how having both lines in one plant can be a challenge. Having all your truck lines at one place could be risky if something goes wrong at the plant.
Great story - nice to have some instight into the workings of a large assembly plant.

Wonder if he will be doing any QC on these frames and associated parts?

If Toyota really wants to impress me they could make three trucks on the same line one being an actual "compact" truck reminiscent of the 80s Toyota trucks AKA real Toyota's , untill then Toyota can pound sand .

For me, the Big three are the only who produce proper full size and heavy duty trucks with the experience of more than 90 years. The current generation Tacuma is way too big and thirsty - Toyota should learn from its own history and make true small quality pick up trucks again.

Thier not even close to being the same size, the Tacoma is a midsize the Tundra is fullsize, I'd like to see them make the Tacoma just a tad bigger and it would be the perfect truck for me.

I notice they don't dress sloppy like the Big 3 autos UAW do with shorts and cut off sleeves and the like. They actually look professional and the plant looks very clean. I work for a foriegn company myself, and they require the same thing.

I am happy with this even though I don;t buy Toyotas, more business for my state, less unemployment and no unions.


The Tacoma is the biggest mid size truck around,it dwarfs the Dakota (used to be the biggest several years ago)

Tundra width...79.9 " wide
Tacoma width..74.7 " wide

So you are saying you would like Toyota's mid size truck the same size as their full size ???!!???


You said: "Toyota should learn from its own history and make true small quality pick up trucks again."

Are you for real? They own 40% of the market in small/mid-size pickups and have led this segment in sales for a while now!

Toyota does not need to learn squat, the small 3 should learn how to build a smaller pickup better and then the consumer may buy them again like they are with Tacoma's!


I toured Toyota's over 8 million square foot Georgetown, KY plant and it was freaken clean. Yes their employee's could not wear shorts, in fact for the tour only pants allowed and safety glasses.

What I liked was the plastic shrouds around the spot welders like when you walk into a walk-in cooler. It kept the sparks away from striking employees and kept the dust out.

I toured a GM plant in Janesville, WI and the Cincinatti Milacron spot welders were not covered and sparks hit one of our tour members (she lived) and they were covered with dust and spider-webs.

No wonder they had about 12 or so shells fail inspection daily while at the Toyota plant that builds close to 500,000 units a year, I saw 1 shell pulled off and like 3 engineers working on it.


The BIG 3 are playing with the BIG BOYS. The real money maker is in full-size trucks. You can have your small compact truck victory because after all toyota likes to build the little things.

40% of squat is still squat.. and that is what the "midsize" truck market has become. There was a time not 10 years ago when Ford sold 300K Rangers per year. Now the entire midsize truck market looks to be about 2/3 of that number. Nothing but squat left in this catergory.

I wonder if he's ever going to CURE the Tundra bed bounce, and not just "treat" it.


Wow!!!!!!! I't s a good thing there wasn't a real baby in that seat. Terrible truck.

f@#ken rat piece of sh@t trucks! buy a union built truck

George: "f@#ken rat piece of sh@t trucks! buy a union built truck"

Those union plants won't be making a truck that serves my needs after the Ranger production stops in 2012.

Are you suggesting that I buy the wrong truck, and then waste a ton of gas and time lugging a ton (literally) of extra metal that I don't need back and forth from Home Depot?

Toyota should go back to their roots, building sewing machines and small cars. The turdra is one of the biggest flops in automotive history and getting worse!!! The best thing about the turdra ran down Mr. toyoda's leg!!!! The tacoma doesn't get better mpg than fullsize trucks, costs just as much, and doesn't look any better than the turdra, they both suck!!! The only good thing I can see about having both so called trucks built at the same factory is if everybody was out of the building and it blew up and nobody got hurt, it would take out both trucks at the same time!

@George: "f@#ken rat piece of sh@t trucks! buy a union built truck"

Are the Mexicans building Ram HD's unionized?

Or Mexicans making diesels for Ford?

The UAW needs to share a massive part of the responsibility for the near death of the auto industry.
Quite a few years ago an expert was questioning the viability of the auto industry.

He commented that the Detroit 3 were Retirement Trusts masquerading as auto companies.

You can only draw so much blood from a host before the host dies. Even the lowly mosquito understands that theory.

I have had a chance to tour this plant. It is incredible inside. The process as to which they build the trucks is really interesting. If they have a special order with a particular color seat, they can have it in about 20 mins because of the supplier being onsite. Everyone that works there is extremely greatful for what Toyota has done for them and even they're community. The coolest story about this plant is the family that owned the land. The president of Toyota at that time flew in and had a good ol country meal with the family to discuss the purchase. Then they had their original house moved to the new land that Toyota bought for them. Dispite the fact that they do not sell as many as the big 3, they still make a great truck. And to the union comment, look who you have in charge now of the UAW. The guy is an IDIOT!!! Protesting Chase bank because they wouldn't extend loans for people in Michigan. Come on get real. The Union is what destroyed the Big 3, all they wanted was MORE, MORE, MORE!!!!

I had a Toyota "Pickup" and loved it. My buddy has a new Tacoma and I happen to think that is a great truck. Driving a ram 2500 today I realized that full size trucks are still much larger than the Tacoma. Especially in urban areas. There is a reason the Tacoma sells. I do not think it is too big at all, it has much greater capability than my old pickup making it more valuable and practical to own. I would buy one if I were in the position - borrow the 2500 when I need a big job.


Your the one making them so profitable by paying close to $10,000 over what it actually costs to build and market the full-size trucks!

I remember reading somewhere it only costs like $10,000-12,000 to make a Tahoe or Suburban yet they sell retail at over $40,000!

You do the math, your over paying...


Are you not a U.S. citizen? Why do you hate this nation so much?

Talk of blowing up plants a.k.a. TERRORISM is not kool...

Talk of hating Toyota's because they have a Japanese nameplate sounds very RACIST if you ask me...

We live in a society where we are FREE to choose what type of vehicle to drive where you seek a communist form of system that you have to buy certain models or else...

I would rather my FREEDOM than the communist way of buying vehicles.

It's all in a name moron yet they are built here in the U.S. If you do not like the fact that I choose to support the workers here in the U.S. that work or supply Toyota, then get the h/ll out of this great nation and form your own CLOSED society of morons that only allow's certain models to be sold!

If we followed your logic the yearly auto show would be at your local high school gym with so few models to choose from! Understand what competition does, it benefits us, the consumer with better models and features to choose from etc...


I choose the Tacoma because the other makes do not have as many models and configurations to choose from and I am very picky where I do not like torsion bars mounted to the lower a-arms nor rear lower shock mounts between the wheel and diff just sitting there begging to get hit.

I prefer a coil sprung front end on my 4wd, much stronger than torsion bars and leaf springs mounted above the axle from the factory and a solid 4-cylinder with solid ground clearance numbers from the factory to build upon.

Tacoma offers all of this, the competition does not, so why would I buy something that I do not seek?

I am not saying Tacoma's don't sell copared to other mid size trucks. I am just saying that it is too big for my taste
as somthing that should be called "copact truck". If Toyota and everyone else (including the big three, of course) design and build small trucks again for th USA, this market segment will grow again, and very rapidly to what it was in the 90's.
It is good that you have a verity of sizes and types of trucks.


"Toyota should go back to their roots, building sewing machines and small cars. The turdra is one of the biggest flops in automotive history and getting worse!!! The best thing about the turdra ran down Mr. toyoda's leg!!!! The tacoma doesn't get better mpg than fullsize trucks, costs just as much, and doesn't look any better than the turdra, they both suck!!! The only good thing I can see about having both so called trucks built at the same factory is if everybody was out of the building and it blew up and nobody got hurt, it would take out both trucks at the same time! "

Fanboi, there are Ford articles you can go comment on. Or, you can go to the war room and bring your ball bustin' UAW friend George with you, ya'll can make sweet fanboi love and create a topic on "bed bounce' or whatever strokes your UAW ego. There are people out there that like toyotas and I respect their choice without the derogatory nature you and your ilk seem to put forth on toyota subjucts. Me thinks that you fanboi's are jealous for some reason.

BTW, I drive an F150, so it has nothing to do with toyota love.

@oxi the drama queen- I never said I was going to do anything. You did a good job at twisting things around and making somthing out of nothing. I made my comment base on first hand experience. I don't care if its foreign or domestic, if it does the job I want it to do than fine with me. I don't comment on anything about the titain because i haven't use one yet. The comment was made about the product not the people and I do not hate anyone. You SAY the other makes don't meet your criteria and thats why you love toyota, so it's ok for you to make comments about other trucks but when somebody makes a comment about toyota you get mad about it, why is that? It sounds to me like you are the DICTATOR. You know it all, but you can't read, so twist it how you want it! Like you said it's a free counrty and I feel free to comment on what I want to.

@ Red_4x4 Seems you and oxi have the love affair! I drive an F150 too, and still haven't used anything better. Their's a differance between a comment and subject matter, so if you what to take this COMMENT to the war room than I'm ready when you are. Or you can send me a pm and we can really get this party started!! Its however you want to do it.

Don't get butt hurt, and I don't play the war room school girl games over the internet. You're an internet buff like many others on here in my eyes since we are not talking face to face, and I will continue to regard you as such. No war room efforts made by me, I don't get engaged in that kind of drivel. I know you do though, so why not take your derogatory drivel over there.

On the subject matter of the toyota name, I don't drive Toyotas and don't plan on it. They are boring trucks to me inside and out, but IMHO, that doesn't make the F150 the best since sliced bread either and I will regard my truck as such, I have it because I like it, not because I think it is the best. Toyota makes good vehicles, so do the others with proper maintenance. I think we should all drive Ford's, and more to the point, should drive F150's and Expeditions that are white to combat global warming. There, everyone can be the same now :)

@ Red_4x4 Not butt hurt at all. You responded to my comment and threw out personal attacks with name calling and telling me I ware I need to take my comments, and comment again with more personal attacks. You don't get in "engaged in that kind of drivel" you just like to start it! This is the only site I go to because its about trucks not about people. I made a comment about a truck not a person, why call me names behind your computer and not face to face? I'am an internet buff? I am an fanboi? Sound like your playing school girl games to me!! I will not repond to you anymore. LETS TALK ABOUT TRUCKS AND LEAVE THE PERSONAL ATTACKS OUT!!!!! A TRUCK IS A THING NOT A PERSON!!!!!! Speaking of trucks I have to go work mine. I truely hope you have a good day.

You too sir, good luck on the truck :)

My goodness guys, to each his own! We buy our trucks for many reasons, so each of us to some degree is a fanboy of what we're driving, goodie for us but show a little tough truck love for another truck guy...not constant bashing and whining.

I've been a Silverado/S10 guy the past 23yrs until recently, when i wanted something bigger than an S10, but full-size truck prices (here in Tampa anyway) didn't seem to budge much during "negotiations". So i went looking at mid-size trucks and really the only ones were the Dakota (hideous looking, high price and lousy gas-mileage) and the Tacoma (from the evil empire Toyota).

I'm the proud papa of a 2010 Taco PreRunner DoubleCab SR5 2WD...and loving it. The only thing i wish it had were a 6spd auto, and a 3.50 rear-end, as the V6 only comes with a 5spd auto, and a 3.73 rear-end. it's mainly a weekend warrior and do use my truck for it's intended at that time, but during the week (like the rest of us) it's mainly a commuter vehicle.

as for gas mileage, i'm getting 20-21.5mpg combined since day one. i've installed a K&N air filter and that's it.

wanted to buy something from the big 3, but they didn't offer something that i liked, wanted, or needed.

sorry boys gotta go, time to start planning on trail routes for the weekend, hooah!

I have never owned a Toyota but I am impressed that Toyota kept their workers working when there was a slow down. I am also impressed that Toyota workers are dressed up in long pants and shirts wearing saftey glasses. I want who ever is making my car or truck to take it seriously and take pride in their work. I do not want to slam Ford, GM, Chrysler, Nissan, or any of the others but those that are not operating their plants this way should take a lesson from Toyota. Paying 20k, 30k, 40k, or more for a vehicle is no laughing matter. Most people are running their cars and trucks a lot longer and are taking better care of their vehicles than in the past because they are so expensive. Todays consumer demands more for their money and wants products that last. All the vehicles made today will last a long time with proper maintenance. I have a 1999 Chevy S-10 and a 2000 Taurus that look and run as good as the day I bought them. I bought a new 2008 Isuzu 4 wheel drive Crew Cab that has been very reliable so far. I applaud any company that takes these steps and I hope that these steps are emulated.

@ Oxi - the profit margin on higher end trucks and SUV's is in the 10,000 - 15,000 range. Toyota has similar if not higher profit margins as they are generally more efficient than the domestics. They also do not have stoned or drunk UAW workers to contend with. (maybe Sake or rice wine) LOL.


You can call a Tacoma a mid-size truck all you want, but really it's just a slightly smaller full-size truck. I saw an old Tacoma on the road the other day, and that was when they were actually being built as compact trucks. It was the size of a Ranger. Now, they're just as big as a 2003 F150 (which is counted as a full-size truck) visually speaking.

I'm still surprised the retards marketing the truck still call it a compact just because it's not fullsize yet in fact the thing is bigger than the already midsize Dodge Dakota!

BTW Toyota PR people, the FORD Ranger is (STILL) the best selling compact pickup till its death in 2012 (it's the ONLY compact pickup in the US now)...Toyota Tacoma is the best-selling midsize pickup! GET IT RIGHT!

Your the one making them so profitable by paying close to $10,000 over what it actually costs to build and market the full-size trucks!

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