Toyota looking hard at compact pickup market

Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz have sold 50,000 units through May of this year, according to figures compiled by Automotive News. Hyundai claims nearly 15,000 of those sales. Although the South Korean automaker's sales are down 16% through the end of May compared to the same period in 2021, the Santa Cruz set a new sales record in May and we know how popular the Maverick is. It's possible that any automaker with a platform that could be converted into a compact truck is now looking at the US compact truck market. Thanks to Motor Trend, we know Toyota is one of those automakers. During Toyota's HQ conference at its Texas base, three executives admitted to keeping a close eye on the segment and brainstorming potential avenues of entry.
Bob Carter, EVP for Toyota Motor North America told MT, "Today we've covered the market really well with Tacoma, but that [a compact pickup truck] could be a possibility and something we'll continue to look at." Cooper Ericksen, Group vice president of product planning and strategy, made it clear that the key is to find out the customer. Toyota has a body-on-frame platform it could use for a pickup truck leaning toward rugged use, and unibody platforms for a city-oriented, single-bed locomotion – which one makes more sense? "[The] more Ford sells, frankly, the more Hyundai sells," he said, "the more we're going to be able to do some good research on who those customers are, why they want that vehicle, and we'll see." if that's the room we want to enter."
Underscoring the point, Jack Hollis, the automaker's SVP of automotive operations here at AN, said there's no question of having room for a truck under the Tacoma in the lineup. Emphasizing the dimensions of the current Tacoma, AN points out that the modern mid-size is nine inches taller and at least three feet longer than a 2000 Tacoma. Hollis asked this space, "The question is how to fill it?"
And Volkswagen should take note, as its recent EV pickup announcement is not only making waves at its US dealerships, Ericksen said: "It will be interesting to watch Scout."
If you live in a certain part of the country, it's as if Toyota's compact history never died. Southern California abounds in fourth-generation trucks, often with painted badges on their tailgates that have been erased to leave only "YO". Examples of the two subsequent generations built in the 1990s - before the Tacoma rose to mid-range in 2005 - even with 200,000+ miles still want good money on the used market.
While Toyota speaks in the conditional tense that all automakers use before announcing a product, it sounds like the company has an idea of ​​what it wants to do. Carter told Motor Trend, "There's a good chance we'll have HQ Confidential 3 next year [in June], so we have other things to talk about." The new Toyota Tacoma is expected next year, the new 4Runner the following year. In 2025, it's possible that Toyota will play small ball again.
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