But you’ve seen nothing like the new Tundra. Straight from the people who made hybrids hip comes a monster truck that will tow more than 10,000 lbs., promises to guzzle gas, and is built with one aim: taking full-size truck sales away from Nissan, Ford, GM, and Dodge. Revealed at the 2006 Chicago Auto Show, the Tundra is arriving at dealerships now, built in the US, and, it seems, ready to put the Detroit 3 on notice: you can no longer expect your trucks to get the lion’s share of truck sales. From the looks of it, the only thing efficient about the Tundra is how it will sell in America’s robust truck market, and how it will handle truck-like chores such as pulling up stumps and towing trailers.
The Tundra is just the tip of the Toyota iceberg, and symbolizes the growing American identity of Japan’s top automaker. Indeed, few things are as American as big trucks – except, perhaps, for NASCAR. Toyota has already won the Craftsman Truck Series, and has now entered the Nextel Cup Series, as well. And while watching a Camry take a victory lap at Daytona may seem strange to some, it’s fitting, as next year Toyota will celebrate 50 years selling cars in America. Beginning in 1957, Toyota began selling vehicles here, and began manufacturing parts in 1972. In 1986, they expanded operations to manufacture vehicles in a joint venture with GM at New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc. in Fremont, California. The Camry, America’s top-selling car for the past four years, is built at Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant. More than six million Camry models have been sold in the United States since its debut 23 years ago.