Big news for Texas and Toyota yesterday. OK, the news actually came out a while back that the automaker would shift midsize pickup production to their full-size truck plant in San Antonio but it was guns blazing Friday as Governor Rick Perry helped kick off the official celebration.
SAN ANTONIO, Texas (August 6, 2010) – Production of the Tacoma pickup truck began last month but was marked today with a ceremony at Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, Inc. (TMMTX). The $100 million investment boosts total investment to $1.4 billion.
Texas Governor Rick Perry joined San Antonio community leaders, team members, suppliers as well as Toyota officials including Toyota Motor Corporation Executive Vice President Atsushi Niimi.
Tacoma’s production move to TMMTX was announced a year ago and adds 1,000 jobs. Today, over 2,800 team members are employed at TMMTX and the plant is fully positioned to ramp up Toyota’s pickup truck production for the American market.
“The San Antonio plant has shown a great deal of resilience during the recession and is fully prepared to ramp-up Tacoma production,” said Chris Nielsen, TMMTX president. “By building Tacoma in Texas, we are able to consolidate pickup truck production in the United States under one roof, allowing us to fully utilize the plant’s capacity.”
During the economic downturn, TMMTX was one of several Toyota plants impacted by poor sales. However, TMMTX retained its workforce instead of laying off, in order to strengthen team members’ skills and improve plant processes.
Recently we spent a little time in one of the last models to be sent off the previous assembly line far, far away. Ours was a 2010 Toyota Tacoma PreRunner Double Cab in 4×2 running gear.
When automakers went the little bit bigger route for their latest entry pickup lines, Toyota knew not only would Tacoma have to achieve segment success but also pave the way for the fullsize Tundra as well.
What Toyota came up with is a Tacoma truck platform that is “right-sized” for North American consumers and is as comfortable onroad as it is capable offroad.
The Tacoma offers an extensive variety of body-and-bed configurations with more than ample passenger room, cargo volume and towing capacity for the segment. There is a choice underneath the hood as well. Customers choose between a base 159hp, 2.7-liter VVT-i four-cylinder or gutsier 236hp, 4.0-liter VVT-i V-6. Each features electronic throttle control with intelligence for improved performance and fuel economy.
The six is backed by either six-speed manual gearbox or five-speed automatic while the four offers five-speed manual or four-speed automatic choice. Our tester had the automatic that offered 17 mpg city fuel economy and 21 mpg on the highway.
Designers have matured the styling of this latest Tacoma giving it a big, bold grill and headlamps up front with broad shouldered fenders in PreRunner and 4×4 models. Interior amenities and materials are much more refined and modern while offering greater “spread” room for occupants.
In addition to a smoother onroad feel, the new Tacoma offers a much quieter ride over previous models thanks to added sound absorption material wrapping the cabin and exterior design improvements to reduce wind noise.
Double Cab models are still the only cab design that will comfortably accommodate rear passengers.
Out back, Toyota engineers have given Tacoma a composite inner bed that features sheet-molded compound deck and walls that are lighter than steel yet tougher and more durable. An integrated deck rail utility system enhances cargo carrying options and an available 115-volt power outlet at the rear of the bed adds to the work capability of the Tacoma. There is also a roof rack system available on the Double Cab models.
Four wheel ABS is standard on all Tacomas complete with Electronic Brakeforce Distribution and Brake Assist. Enhanced ride quality is thanks to Toyota adopting the design concept of moving rear shocks outside of the frame rails as Ford first did on its recent F-150s.
All new Tacoma models offer Vehicle Stability Control as well as TRAC traction control and 4×4 models can be outfitted with Hill-start Assist Control and Downhill Assist Control, greatly enhancing off-roading capabilities. Tacoma 4×4 models are equipped with the 4WDemand electronically-controlled two-speed transfer case activated by a turn of a dash mounted knob.
Pricing for our test model Tacoma began at $23,500. Fully loaded, this PreRunner 4×2 Double Cab came to $28,335.
Standard safety items include front, side impact and side curtain airbags along with driver and front passenger active headrests, and the tire pressure monitoring system is thrown in as well. Add ons included a spicier TRD Sport package (further dressing things up outside), JBL audio system and a heavier tow package.
I am glad to see the Tacoma calling Texas home now and look forward to a nice Lone Star package in the future.