Toyota's Tijuana Plant Pumps Out Tacomas

Toyota Tijuana Plant 2 II

As the No. 1 selling truck in the midsize pickup segment, the 2017 Toyota Tacoma has many secret weapons such as a new interior, Crawl Control, the new TRD Pro trim level and a high-tech 3.5-liter V-6 engine that uses both direct and port injection. But Toyota's biggest secret weapon of all may be the two production plants that build the Tacoma, something no other midsize pickup manufacturer does. The highly efficient production plant in Tijuana, Mexico, pumps out as many four-door Tacomas (called double cabs) as possible to keep up with demand.

According to Automotive News (subscription required), the Tijuana facility is running three shifts and producing more than double the number of Tacomas it did just five years ago, and dealers want more. It's worth noting the Tacoma has one of the shortest days-on-sales averages of any vehicle in the U.S. But where Toyota's San Antonio plant, which also builds Tacomas, is highly automated with many types of assembly and spot-weld robots, the Tijuana plant is not.

The Tijuana plant has fewer robots; Toyota instead chose to have human backups just in case the machinery goes down. Since the plant is remote (it doesn't have any suppliers on-site or a dedicated rail line to the facility), all the materials, powertrains, parts and raw materials that are not made at the plant have to be shipped in. That includes the parts, tools and diagnostic software that the robots might need for repair. So the Tijuana plant embraces the idea that the less advanced technology used, the better.

The Tijuana plant produces about 100,000 Tacoma double cabs annually, but the biggest bottleneck in the delivery system is that Mexico restricts crossing at the nearest border checkpoint to 12 hours a day. If Toyota is going to get more Tacomas out of Tijuana, it will have to do it with some kind of massively expensive expansion plan, likely needing at least one dedicated rail line and help from the Mexican government to keep the nearest border crossing open 24 hours.

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Wonder if Toyota could retool the Indiana plant that once made Tundra's for extra Tacoma production. Or maybe the plant in Kentucky.

I think it would cost Toyota too much money and time to expand the Texas plant for extra capacity, since that plant is already running at or over capacity with the Tundra and Tacoma production off the same line.

This article does not do the Tijuana plant justice; that plant used to be parts only, then started to build Tacoma's and thereafter won awards for Quality, which implies it does a better job than the San Antonio plant in terms of quality, etc.

If Toyota would offer a 7ft 3in regular cab bed on the Tacoma I would buy two for my business. The reason I say 7ft 3in is because they can build at at very little retooling cost. The wheelbase on such a regular cab would be the same as the 6ft doublecab wheelbase.

Retool just for 2 tacoma's with 7' 3" beds?

If the tacoma was 10,000 dollars cheaper it would be a great value. As it stands, I'd much rather get a used full size truck and a 50 inch side by side that I could carry in the bed. WAY more value in that.

Just came back from a truck auction. Before I left a 2007 Toyota Tacoma 4x4 Crew Cab Short box Auto transmission with 139890 miles sold for $15k. Most of the crowd thought it was overpriced and was the most expensive thing I saw auctioned up until I left. I'm not so sure the perception that Toyota is better quality, hence the high resale. Some swear by the quality, and some are not so sworn by it. I also thought Honda was high quality, but when I had to change the distributor and front axles of a 1992 Honda Accord at ~90k miles, that my now deceased father was driving around slowly, I thought that's not such good quality for a high end Japanese manufacturer.

I would like to see Toyota bring back the regular cab with the standard (6-foot) bed.

I think it would cost Toyota too much money and time to expand the Texas plant for extra capacity, since that plant is already running at or over capacity with the Tundra and Tacoma production off the same line.
Posted by: Jack | Sep 14, 2016 11:46:08 AM

Perhaps it's time Toyota either accepts that the Tundra is a failure and scuttle it. Or they give it a real update.

As it stands, they ought to shut down the Tundra line and commit to the Tacoma in San Antonio.

I wonder if Toyota plans on expanding the Tijuana plant. They're investing $1 billion in Mexico for a new 2020 Corolla. They've said that Mexico is key to Toyota's future manufacturing strategy.

If Toyota's strategy is global (and I believe that it is) then they have to build trucks in places outside the US where they can escape its UAW style labor costs.

Tacoma pickups for sale in Latin America? Why not build them in Mexico?

Production of the Ford Focus and C-Max, the only small cars Ford still assembles in the United States, will be moved to Mexico, according to a Ford spokeswoman. Ford has previously said it was opening a new plant in Mexico that would employ 2,800 workers there.

The Ford Fiesta subcompact is already being assembled in Mexico. The high-performance Ford Focus RS is made in Germany.

Great to see a Mexican company like Ford doing so well.

I thought the T. plant was producing 50K a year with the rest made in San Antonio. PUTC, can you confirm?

Cheap labor is more cost effective than expensive Robot . There are a lot Mexican that will work dirt cheap . This is a big problem for the U.S work force. This is why we need tariffs to off set Mexican cheap labor.

My 2014 was built in TJ. It's an absolute piece of junk, with doors not hung correctly, door molding doesn't keep wind noise out. Front end bottoms going over small bumps. Front rotors warped from day one. I could go on and on. Local dealer support non-existent. Had to take them to arbitration to have warranty items fixed. Wish I'd kept my 02 Tundra with 240,000 miles.

This is a big problem for the U.S work force. This is why we need tariffs to off set Mexican cheap labor.


But what about the concerns of American consumers? Tariffs add to the cost of imported goods.

I don't know if we disagree or not, but tariffs don't equal a free ride either. There are costs either way.

Made in Mexico means quality. Mexico is a natural partner for the USA. I can't say the same thing about China.

It was the only Tacoma that ran. Two other Tundra's went too, but I didn't pay attention to them. It was a public auction today.

From what I've seen, the 2WD PreRunner Double Cab Tacomas are built in Mexico. The 4x4s are still built in Texas. Moral of the story: buy a Truck that's made in America or a car with a bed that comes from Mexico

@ Free Traitor; a spelling correction, Toyota's top selling global mid-sizer is called HILUX - the preferred truck for ISIS & favorite target with US drones who've blown up hundreds...

Here's an idea; maybe Toy makers can use it for future ads on how war readiness of their trucks; they've being bomb tested...

I own a 2016 Tacoma TRD Sport. I liked my 1990 Toyota Prerunner V6 with roll up windows, 5 speed manual better.

Imo...if u make it in Mexico...leave it in Mexico

oxi might get upset and call these comments racist since they are critical of Toyota, a Japanese corporation building a truck in Mexico. He gets very defensive when it comes to the Tacoma. For me it is what it is and since Ford, Honda, GM, FCA are all assembling vehicles in Mexico it is hard to cast a stone at Toyota. Much less expensive to transport a vehicle made in Mexico to the US and Canada than it is from China and much easier to adjust production to increases and decreases due to fluctuations in demand. Also Mexico being part of NAFTA is not subject to the same import taxes as if it was made outside of North America.

It good to see Mexico get some work as well. US unemployment is quite low so US job creation is not an issue here.

A stronger Mexico means the Mexican populace has more money to spend ............... this means Mexico is importing more American product.

A poorer Mexico means Mexico will import less American product, which means a poorer America. America relies on money from sources external to the country.

This is what made America great, it's called trade.

Keep up the good work all the vehicle manufacturers in Mexico as it makes more countries richer.

Gotta love globalisation, all are winners.

Good job Toyota, keep up the good work unlike GM!

Why bother installing seats in the Tacoma?
The seats sit so low it feels like you're sitting on the floor!
and with the tiny cab and small door with high ground clearance its a struggle to get in and out of the truck.

Correction. Ford will be the only Big 3 man'f to make all of its US pickups in the US.

Toyota - Tacos made in Mexico

GM - some Silverado and Sierras crewcabs are made in Mexico

Ram - regular cab 1500, and all HD trucks made in Mexico

Honda - Ridgeline made in USA

Nissan - Titan and Frontier made in USA (If Nissan can do it, why can't Toyota?)

Ford - F-150, Super Duty, F-650/F-750 made in USA. (Good job, Ford!)

Future vehicles: 2019 Ford Ranger will be made in the USA.

It becoming apparent the the US has become more of an assembly point for vehicles because most parts come in from China and Mexico.

If one takes in the data across the vehicle manufacturing sector in the US, one will see that there has been a huge surge in the quantity of vehicles manufactured in the US with very little growth in vehicle industry jobs. Most of this can be attributed to many components coming in from off shore and to a lesser degree robotics.

So, built in the US should maybe read, partly built and assembled in the US.

Automotive News 9-15-16 = Toyota is investing $150 million at its Tijuana, Mexico plant to increase output of the Tacoma pickup truck.

Even FCA makes more vehicles in the US then Ford.

The US just prints as much money as needed, can't really complain about NAFTA, China or anything. Other countries have to gift something valuable and stock dollars, in order to get their oil.

there has been a huge surge in the quantity of vehicles manufactured in the US with very little growth in vehicle industry jobs. Most of this can be attributed to many components coming in from off shore and to a lesser degree robotics.

@big al, aka wild willy

Your statement describes what EVERY manufacturer of repetitive (discrete & complex) assemblies has been doing for 20 years. Stay in the shallow water, Al. Don't get too deep!

Toyota never removed the "Chicken Tax" fee from their pricing once they started building in the USA. They are still charging everyone that hidden tax today in every pickup it sells in the USA. That is why Toyota Tacoma pickups are priced higher that any other manufacture's pickups in the midsize field. Now they are making them outside the USA. Oh what feeling; get screwed by Toyota!

I couldn't agree with Joplin more. If midsized pretend trucks actually were $10K cheaper and actually got 10 mpg more than fullsize half ton V6s one might take them seriously for meaningful attributes rather than focusing on looking good while riding high, doing u turns and fitting into garages.

The labor savings must have been tremendous for Toy to accept the issues with supplying the factory and the lack of automation. While changing either aspect would require a massive investment such investments are not uncommon in manufacturing. Big changes always in infrastructure always require big investments in money and are often more prohibitive because of the down time and lost production than the money itself.

The advantages of going primitive are both good and bad. I would be curious to learn more about worker pay, treatment and conditions inside the facility. Are they able to do what they do manually in a sane manner or is it a hellish sweatshop or more realistically somewhere inbetween?

Good job Toyota, keep up the good work!

My 2010 Tacoma was built in California with UAW labor and has been by far the most reliable pickup I have ever owned!

No issues and still running strong!

My new 2016 Tacoma was built in Texas and so far after 13,000 miles has been reliable just like my 2010!

Keep up the good work Toyota, your pickups are reliable and run problem free!

The Phoenix-Durango is an old, small railroad located in the Southwest run by Dan Conway that has been insignificant for most of its existence. Toyota could buy that and extend it to Tijuana to get those trucks out.

hmmmm... Toyota engineering is World Class Second To None.


Mexican manufacturing is Dead Last because the Walking Dead live in Mexico.


They DO try to build cars there.


Tacos are made south of the border? Who knew?!

oxi--There are no foreign own vehicle manufacturers with the exception of FCA that have UAW plants. The original NUMI plant in California was UAW, but once that agreement between GM and Toyota ended it was no longer a union plant. The UAW has unsuccessfully tried to unionize foreign owned plants with the last attempt made at a VW plant in Chattanooga. I believe the main reason for Toyota increasing capacity at the Mexico plant is not just the cost of labor but it is easier to expand the Mexican plant without interrupting the production at other North American plants. It appears the only problem is the transportation issue and that will be resolved because the number of additional jobs that will be added due to increase capacity. If you read the article you can understand that the lower trim Tacomas will be produced in Mexico because there is less profit margin on them and it makes more sense to not take production away from a plant making more profitable vehicles. This is one reason why Ford is moving production of smaller cars to Mexico to increase production in existing US plants to produce more profitable trucks and suvs. The jobs in the USA are not going away but the capacity is being freed up to produce vehicles with a higher profit margin.

@Jeff S
I toured that old NUMI plant around CY2003. They put us in a little train like buggy pulled by a battery powered golf cart kind of vehicle. Felt like I was at Disneyland. Anyway, it was interesting seeing the welding robots, sparks and all, being a hands on hobby machinist mechanic type, with electrical engineering background, but they wouldn't let us get very close to anything so it was more like watching a video. I like getting real close and seeing the details and talking to the people doing the work. Now that plant is TESLA. I work a mile away. Yah I've seen my share of changes in Silicon Valley. I remember in ~2005 when Toyota took the Tundra and decided to oversize it like the Big 3 in size. I was disappointed! I thought it was the perfect midsize/fullsize. Now they have the Tacoma which I hear enough about bad seating and the Tundra which is more like the big3. Can't anyone be different. Anyway, this week I noticed the Tundra engine compartment to be different than the others. It seems the hood is higher and shorter. Would really like to go measure it to see if it really is shorter. Yah I'm getting long in the tooth that these long front ends are simply too long. Need emphasis to be put on designs that move the cab forward some. Perhaps that's what this Toyota snub front end is: a slight progression of putting things more forward.

That would have been an interesting tour Angelo. I believe with the trend toward smaller engines that you will indeed see a shortening of the truck length on the front. It would not be that hard to take a foot off the front of a full size half ton with a smaller engine. It is possible with a foot off the front that the full size half ton would become the new global size for pickups. Trucks are the last vehicles to not be on global platforms and eventually they will be on them as well. I think that Toyota has no other choice but to increase production in their Mexican plant to meet the demand but I also believe that with too much production there will be increase discounting to move the metal. The Colorado/Canyon and now the new Honda Ridgeline have renewed interest and energy into the midsize truck market. Even Toyota has give a refresh to the Tacoma and it will be interesting to see what Nissan eventually does with the Frontier. If the full size half ton become smaller then this will make the midsize irrelevant but there is still room for a true compact truck but that could be on a uni-body platform to save costs.

Ford - F-150, Super Duty, F-650/F-750 made in USA. (Good job, Ford!)

Future vehicles: 2019 Ford Ranger will be made in the USA.
Posted by: Jason | Sep 15, 2016 3:01:48 AM

*Super Duty, F-650/F-750

*Powered by Mexican made 6.7 Powerstroke

When I was a small boy 60 years ago, we shunned products Made In Japan or Made in West Germany.

Since then we've learned that opening our doors to foreign producers improved consumer prospects but it took a lot longer to realize there was a cost to American families and communities that were not properly compensated when their local factories closed and the burden of financing schools and roads fell on homeowners and small businesses.

@Rammins--You brought up a valid point that when fuel prices go up that the US worker will not benefit from the smaller vehicles produced in Mexico and China. The truth is that all these manufacturers are global and will produce where it is more beneficial. I cannot completely blame them.

@papa jim--I too remember when made in Japan was a mark of a product being cheap and inferior. Japan went from cheap toys and transistor radios to electronics and automobiles. It took a while for Japan to get to where it is, a leader but they have done so in the generation following WWII. Japanese manufacturers were great students of what were the best American processes such as W Edwards Deming I still have a Japanese transistor radio that I had as a child with a leather case and an ear plug and it still works after 52 years.

As for West Germany, the Germans have always been a stickler for detail. Germany had fuel injection in their fighter planes (ie ME-109) while the US and Britain still use carburetors. Fuel injection was much more reliable and would not cause the plane's engine to stall as what happened with carburetors. The German's were so detailed oriented that the parts of their rifles that were not required to be polished and finished were. The German's even developed a long range 4 engine jet bomber that was in final stages of testing. Boeing was developing a jet bomber for the military at the same time but the Government asked Boeing to hold off when WWII was ending to see what the German bomber was like. Boeing got the swept wings for their early bombers like the B-52 from that German bomber which had been flown and tested.

Now China is the emerging power and their image for quality has been less than stellar, but that will change as well. Nothing ever stays the same and there will always be another country or business that is just a little hungrier to get a piece of the action. A person, country, or business cannot rest on their past accomplishments alone, there is always someone who will challenge them.

China is the emerging power and their image for quality has been less than stellar, but that will change as well. Nothing ever stays the same and there will always be another country or business that is just a little hungrier.

@Jeff S

Can you tell me where the iPhones come from?

@papa jim--China is capable of producing quality products but they also make products to the price point. In other words if you want it really cheap they will make it cheap and the quality will suffer. Also the manufacturer of I-phones had to put nets around their facility because their workers jumping out of the windows committing suicide. Maybe the quality standards are too high and the workers are literally killing themselves. Would you recommend having those conditions in US plants?

@ Jeff S; great point - my conclusion was similar on my recent visit to China to negotiate deals to manufacture product(s) for a business venture; the Chinese are ready (& still hungry) to secure a deal based on what you are willing to pay for the type/quality of product you want & need.
So in the end, it all comes down to what you can do to control the manufacture of this final product outcome & the cost you've agreed/'s that simple.

I do hope auto manufactures will follow closely similar controls of products produced in China (or else where) as the end result will affect recalls as we've seem with the many auto recalls...

Further to my last points; no one is immune to crappy parts including Ford but some more than others;

If they would just add some extra adjustment on at least the drivers seat I would've bought one about 4 years ago. It would've been perfect for the type oilfield work I was doing but the flat floor
seating position isn't comfortable for a tall guy over the long haul. Such a simple thing and plenty of others have made this complaint.

@Lionel--The issue with parts is becoming more common as many of the manufacturers are using the same suppliers and on many of the parts there is very little difference in the specs between a part used on a Ford, GM, FCA, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and etc. The parts business is hard one in that there is a lot of pressure from the auto manufacturers on the parts supplier to get the lowest bid and still maintain quality. Many times the bid is too low and the parts supplier will take some short cuts to make it profitable. The auto manufacturers are also under the gun to control costs.

Also trying to stock parts for any vehicle can be a problem as from this article about a owner of a 7 year old F-150.
I am not going to pick on Ford but this could happen with any vehicle or any product.

@ Jeff S; yep and like I said, some more than others.

I would like to see more standardization on parts. It doesn't make sense to have a specific part vary so much that it leads to supply problems such as the link that I provided on the 7 year old F-150.

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