Last Friday the first two Tundra pickups rolled off the line at Toyota’s new production facility in San Antonio, Texas. The facility, called Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Texas, took three years to build and cost $1.28 billion. At full capacity it can pump out 200,000 Tundras a year, a rate at which Toyota hopes the plant will be operating sometime next year. The facility also houses 21 suppliers who produce components for the Tundra on-site. Toyota’s president Katsuaki Watanabe and Texas Governor Rick Perry were on hand to witness the ceremony that marks Toyota’s entry into the North American auto industry’s biggest market.
With a capacity of only 200,000 units per year, it’s not likely the Tundra will put a huge dent in the sales of its main competitors, the Ford F-150 and Chevy Silverado/GMC Sierra, both of which sell more than three to four times that many units in a year. Still, the arrival of a competitive full-size truck from Toyota, the current can’t-miss automaker, is a big deal, and it’s no coincidence this manufacturing facility was built right in the heart of Texas truck country. [Toyota]