Recently our esteemed media competitor in the eastern part of the Metroplex wrote a column about Toyota’s decision to move to the Metroplex. Its thrust was that witnessing how many pickup trucks there are in North Texas and how our citizens use them might change the way Toyota’s executives view their Tundra. Once here, when those executives see for themselves that trucks are as much a lifestyle vehicle as a mobile tool for working Texans, some believe they will demand changes to make their truck more competitive.
The lifestyle part is true enough. Some Texas drivers have owned pickup trucks for years and have never once put anything into the bed.
It is equally true that most domestic auto manufacturers love full-sized trucks and large SUVs simply because those vehicles produce their best profit margins. Then again, the seeds of the auto industry’s next crisis will be the same ones that grew into its last two crises: Detroit depends almost completely on sales of large trucks and SUVs for its profits, often struggling to turn any sort of meaningful profit on the outstanding cars all of its automakers now sell.
Meanwhile, even if Toyota had never introduced its exceptional Tundra pickup truck, it would still be the most profitable automobile manufacturer in the world. After all, Toyota earned almost double the operating profit of the Ford Motor Company in 2013 by selling just shy of 10 million vehicles, of which only 113,000 were Tundras. Ford, in contrast, sold upwards of three quarters of a million F Series trucks, but they accounted for more than 30 percent of Ford’s North American sales and the majority of their profits.