Will Toyota let Tacoma wither on vine like Dakota and Ranger?
The 2015 model year pickups are starting to appear and the Toyota Tacoma looks to be unchanged from last year. Yes, the new TRD Pro Series will be very popular among those who want to do serious off-roading, or look the part, but Toyota has not released any new information about Tacoma changes for 2015. Is Toyota going to let the Tacoma wither on the vine in order to let Tundra flourish? If so, we have seen this strategy before. Dodge and Ford let their Dakota and Ranger sales languish in order to make room on the production line, dealer lots, and ledger books for the more expensive full-size pickups they made.
Fuel Efficient Trucks - Canyon, Colorado. F-150
GM’s Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are going to be important new additions to the smaller than full-size pickup market. The Ford F-150 is bringing a new, lighter full size to market with an entirely new, and much more fuel efficient engine. The Nissan Frontier’s sales are also up. Will Toyota simply stand by and watch as its Tacoma sales dwindle? Apparently the company will, at least for a year or two.
Experts Have Seen This Before
Tim Esterdahl at TEC Creative Services covers the Tacoma for multiple truck publications. He too has thought of the scenario we outlined. We asked him to comment on the subject, and he said “Toyota is caught in a tough spot. They can’t increase production of the Tacoma with their plant being maxed out. Yet, they don’t want to give up the sales title. This will likely mean, Toyota will make small, incremental changes to hold the sales lead while, hopefully for Toyota, not increasing market share and stealing production from the more profitable Tundra.” Tim went on to say “The increased competition in the mid-size segment is just what Toyota needed to justify investing money in the Tacoma. The truth is Toyota has been the dominant sales leader for so long, they haven’t had any drive to improve the Tacoma.”
Aaron Turpen of Torque News and CarNewsCafe covers Nissan news daily. He watches the Frontier closely and concurs with Tim’s point that Toyota now has good reason to respond. Aaron said “Toyota sees the renewed competition from Detroit as a much-needed boot in the patootie. I have heard as much from Toyota insiders, in fact.”
This story is meant primarily as a thought exercise, and these are all opinions. What is not an opinion is that the Tacoma’s sales have now been down for two consecutive calendar years, and many months running. Tundra’s sales, by contrast, are up for about the same period, and a new Tundra was launched about 18 months ago. The Tacoma has one of Toyota’s most loyal fan followings, and it would be a shame if the company lets it languish in order to allow the Tundra to flourish.