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Toyota starts up in Texas

Amy Scott Nov 17, 2006


SCOTT JAGOW: I bet the car executives in Detroit are a little nervous about what’s happening in San Antonio today. Toyota opens a plant to build the new version of its Tundra pickup truck. This is not like any Toyota plant in the U.S. so far. It’ll use a lot of robotics and turn out a Tundra once every 73 seconds. This is a bold move, making Japanese pickup trucks in the heartland of America. Amy Scott has more.

AMY SCOTT: For years, three trucks have dominated the full-size pickup market: the Ford F-Series, the Chevy Silverado and the Dodge Ram. Toyota is hoping the redesigned Tundra with its heftier engine can take them head-on.

FRANK MAGLIANO: It’s gonna do some damage out there. That’s for sure.

Frank Magliano follows the auto industry for Global Insight. He says Toyota was smart to build the new plant in Texas. Analysts estimate as many as one in five pickups is sold there. And Toyota is trying to shake its foreign image.

MAGLIANO: In areas where you put a plant up and employ people and put money into the local tax base, the tendency is there for people to buy that vehicle. That’s why it was put there.

The road won’t be easy for the new Tundra.

Just this week General Motors rolled out its own redesigned Silverado and Sierra models, and demand for full-size pickups is slipping as customers look for better fuel economy.

In New York, I’m Amy Scott for Marketplace.

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