Latest News

Texas Toyota Dealers Hope HQ Move Improves Truck Awareness

While Toyota’s headquarters move may help improve the efficiency of the large company, local dealers are hoping the increased exposure of trucks to Japanese executives will spur new investments in the product lineup. This may just be the visual reinforcement that pushes Toyota to really invest in their trucks.

Texas Toyota Dealers Hope HQ Move Improves Truck Awareness

David Schoemaker of Toyota of Irving is adding on to his dealership and is ready to talk trucks if any executives come around.
Photo Credit: David Woo/Staff Photographer Dallas News

We have known resources were limited for the Tacoma since the last time we spoke with Tacoma Chief Engineer Mike Sweers, he basically said as much. At the time, we saw him at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the new Chevy Colorado had just been unveiled. He said he hoped the increased competition would push Toyota to increase his resources.

Now, with the company relocating, North Texas area dealerships are gearing up to showcase the state’s truck culture. A recent story in the Dallas News talks about how much the dealers are hoping the exposure will help the Tundra. We think it should also help the Tacoma as well.

“We are constantly talking to [Toyota execs] about the impact here of trucks,” said Pat Lobb, owner of Pat Lobb Toyota in McKinney and a member of Toyota’s national dealer council. “When they come to Texas and see Tundras and Ford and Chevy trucks everywhere, they will get a firsthand look at what customers buy and how they use their trucks.”

In California, Toyota’s Japanese executives saw first-hand the Tacoma sales success and dominance. This may have given them an inaccurate view on the U.S. truck market.

With the company moving to Texas, these executives will undoubtedly see a different picture. This picture will be filled with Ford, Chevy and RAM trucks. It will also show them the many different ways people use trucks.

“California is such a different state and not heartland America,” said Rusty Gentry, general manager of Toyota of Plano. “When they see all the different grades of trucks that people here drive — from the guy who just needs a work truck to the white-collar professional in a luxury pickup — that could help our truck.”

The focus for these dealers may be on the full-size truck which we really can’t blame them since it is Texas – the largest full-size truck market in the world. Yet, having executives talking trucks more often, ultimately will help all the trucks including the Tacoma.

“Pat [Lobb] and I serve on numerous Toyota dealer councils, and one thing we always say is we need more trucks,” said Minor, general manager of Freeman Toyota. “I’m sure they’re tired of hearing it. They need to see it, and they can see the prevalence of pickups down here.”

What’s the big difference between the markets?

“Trucks are lifestyle vehicles as well as tools in Texas,” said Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “In California, they are only tools — and that’s all most Toyota executives have seen.”

Hopefully Toyota executives will get the message.