Toyota chief marketing officer talks 2022 tundra and truck strategy
With the complete overhaul of its Tundra pickup, Toyota has both the challenge and the opportunity to increase sales of the truck in the face of fierce competition from national nameplates.
The first redesign of the Toyota Tundra since 2007, the truck is much improved, offering improvements in fuel economy, safety, comfort, handling and off-road capability. And Toyota has proven with its segment-leading Tacoma mid-size pickup that it can compete with Ford and Chevrolet in the truck market.
Bringing the Tundra into the game is the job of Lisa Materazzo, vice president of the Toyota Group Marketing Division at Toyota Motor North America. Materazzo recently sat down with Trucks.com to discuss the automaker’s truck strategy. Here is an edited version of that conversation.
What is your overall strategy with the 2022 Tundra and Toyota pickup trucks?
Our goal is to build on the heritage we have with body-on-chassis vehicles. I mean, we’ve been a big player with the Tacoma in the midsize truck market. We dominate there with an incredible market share. The new generation of Tundra builds on this by entering the heart of the full-size half-ton pickup truck market. We now have two very capable trucks.
The new Tundra does not have a V8 option or a regular cabin. How much of the full-size truck market does the new Tundra cover?
There is still a fairly large share of the half-ton market. Think about how the half-ton truck market has changed over the years and the dynamics of buyers. This is a different kind of truck buyer. Now granted, there is the demand for the use of labor, and the truck must be capable. People tow, and they pull. They expect this, and we’ve got it covered. It’s almost your cost of entry. But beyond that, we see buyers looking to do more with their trucks. There is a significant entry into the segment from a variety of SUV categories. And it’s driven by midsize SUVs. So there are over 60,000 units each year or 60,000 people entering the SUV segment. They are looking for additional capabilities and they are looking for additional features of the vehicle.
We cover a large part of the market. We have a variety of cabin and bed configurations including the eight foot bed.
The 2022 Toyota Tundra will have 41 configurations taking into account the body style, drivetrain, engine and various trims. National brands apparently offer hundreds of configurations. Why less choice?
It’s part of the strategy in terms of where we’re looking to play in the market. We are also looking at where we have the current success. With every vehicle we put on the market, it’s a balance between market coverage, knowledge of the target audience and the number of configurations. There comes a time when there are so many setups that a consumer trying to buy the vehicle they want from the dealership they want when they want becomes complicated. We want to make sure the vehicles are as easily accessible as possible. And, of course, we do tons of market research. So we can see across the segment, both qualitatively and quantitatively, where the buyers are and where the volume is. We triangulate where the buyers are, what we bring only to Toyota, and where there is the volume opportunity.
Do you think there is more room for growth in the full-size pickup truck market?
The market for full-size pickup trucks, in general, has been very stable. I would say short term chip issues aside, the industry is going to continue to see a strong segment but not much growth.
Where will the Tundra buyers come from?
It will be a combination of retaining existing buyers. As you know, the truck hasn’t undergone a major overhaul for quite some time. So the Tundra buyers who have left us will see that we have a solid product to get them back. They often left because they wanted something different, and we didn’t have a renewed model for them. And I think we now have a vehicle that can be competitive and win over buyers from other brands.
Toyota is investing a lot of money in its truck factories, and the Tacoma is aging now. Is this any indication we’ll see a new Tacoma?
I’m not going to talk about future products, but you know that we regularly update our vehicles, depending on the dynamics of the market. We might have something on the Tacoma, but nothing I’m ready to talk about at this point.