Locations -- Toyota Trucks To Texas

Dec. 21, 2004
With the opening of its San Antonio assembly plant in 2006, Toyota will expand annual Tundra production capacity by 150,000.

Production of an Arctic-sounding truck is coming to 2,000 acres of decidedly non-Arctic ranch land just south of San Antonio. By 2006, some 90 to 100 acres will be under roof as the sixth North American assembly plant of Toyota Motor Corp. is set to turn out 150,000 Tundra pickups annually. The San Antonio investment of about $800 million is intended to supplement production of the full-size pickup, now made exclusively at a Toyota plant in Princeton, Ind. Production at the San Antonio plant will include stamping, body welding, plastic fabrication, painting and assembly -- all performed under the famed Toyota Production System. To ensure environmental compatibility, Toyota biologists are studying the area's flora and fauna before beginning construction. Indeed, the company says it's applying the philosophy of kaizen -- continuous improvement -- to environmental issues. The facility is expected to initially bring about 2,000 new jobs to Texas, with hiring to begin in 2005. "Ultimately many more jobs will be added as suppliers begin locating in nearby facilities," says Mario Hernandez, president of the San Antonio Economic Development Foundation (EDF). The San Antonio Express-News reports that in the next decade the total number of jobs created could reach 7,300. During that time the annual payroll of the Toyota facility could reach $260 million. Hernandez estimates the current size of the San Antonio labor force at about 800,000 with almost 8% employed in manufacturing. (Other major employers in San Antonio include Sony Corp., Royal Phillips Electronics NV, Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.) He is currently working with more than a dozen supplier organizations. At a press conference in February, Fujio Cho, Toyota's president, described the special influence that Texas and the Dallas Cowboys played in the company's pickup truck marketing. "For some time during the 1990s, our product planners in Japan resisted creating a big V8 pickup for sale in America. But our U.S. colleagues changed this opinion." It happened when planners were invited to a Dallas Cowboys football game. A parking lot full of pickups provided the convincing evidence. "Our planners realized then that American pickups were not solely commercial vehicles, but widely used [by] everyone for regular transportation. The result was the Tundra." The V8-powered model went on sale in June of 1999 as a 2000 model and has won three consecutive J.D. Powers Initial Quality Awards for "Best Full-Sized Pickup." Cho says the model had the best sales debut ever of any Toyota or Lexus product. Sales since introduction exceed 350,000. EDF's Hernandez estimates that in the U.S., one pickup out of seven is sold in Texas. By 2006, Toyota is expected to have the capacity to build 1.65 million cars and trucks a year and 1.16 million engines in North America and employ about 35,000 people throughout the continent. Including the investment it's making in Texas, Toyota's direct investment in North America tops $14 billion. Locations profiles selected siting and facility strategies by manufacturing companies. Send submissions to Senior Editor John S. McClenahen at [email protected].

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