How many more Tacomas could Toyota sell if it offered a diesel in the U.S.?
No single topic entices Tacoma fans into a lively debate more than the merits of a diesel Tacoma for the U.S. market. Choose any forum you like and search for “diesel” and you will see that the positions are polar opposites, and firmly entrenched. We will offer a few arguments both for and against a diesel Tacoma here, but before we do, let’s answer a simple question. How many more Tacomas would Toyota sell if it offered a Tacoma diesel in the U.S.? We contend the answer is zero. Furthermore, we will also state that Chevy’s Colorado Duramax 2.8L diesel and Canyon twin will not elevate sales by even a single unit.
Why Diesels Won’t Increase Sales
The simple fact is the production facilities that Toyota and General Motors use to produce these vehicles are at full capacity. Furthermore, every truck made is sold in the month it is put onto dealer lots. Neither has even hinted it may build more capacity. For Toyota, the number is about 17,000 Tacomas per month, and for GM the number is roughly 10,000 total Canyons and Colorados. Toyota’s old, 2015 design is selling out every month. If anyone suspects the newer 2016 won’t, feel free to make your case. We checked with GM to be sure we had that facts right about the production being at max. When we did, we also asked what GM expects the “take-rate” to be for the Duramax. Five percent is the expectation. So roughly 500 trucks per month (after an initial surge).
The Case For and Against a Tacoma Diesel
Forget the details. Here’s why Toyota should make a diesel. The fans want one. Shouldn’t that be enough? Second, it would help (a tiny bit) with the corporate average fuel economy Toyota is always trying to improve. That is pretty much it for the “Yes” argument.
Why not do a diesel? Because as Toyota’s chief engineer for Tacoma explained, it is not cost effective. It would cost the company more money to adapt an existing diesel design to meet U.S. regulations than the profit on the diesel trucks sold would generate. Toyota does not sell a single diesel in the U.S. The reasons go beyond just economics. Toyota believes that for environmental benefits and governmental relations, hybrids do much more. Affordable hybrids and even normal gasoline engines, in the compact segment spank diesels when it comes to CO2 production and petroleum usage. They also win the cost per mile case. Even at Lexus the hybrids stack up well against the BMW diesels in terms of green credibility and performance. Many diesel advocates cite towing ability as an important benefit of diesel engines in trucks. That is true, but in the Colorado the Duramax only improves towing capacity by 10%.
As a Toyota owner and fan, I would love to see a diesel Tacoma sold in the U.S., just like I love seeing the low-volume Lexus RC F for sale. However, adding a diesel engine won’t sell more trucks at Toyota, nor will it at GM.
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