As North American sales for trucks and SUVs continue to decline, Toyota Motor Corp. is considering making the U.S. its export base for overseas shipments of the Tundra pickup and Sequoia SUV.
The Toyota Sequoia is built at a facility in Princeton, Ind., that also manufactures a small quantity of Tundras, which are primarily assembled in San Antonio, Texas.
Assembly of both models have been idled since August 8 due to the high number in inventory. Production is not scheduled to resume until sometime in November.
Currently sales of the Tundra are down 15.2 percent through the July reporting period from 105,990 in 2007 to just 89,929. The Sequoia, redesigned for the current model year, is up 32.8 percent from 14,582 to 18,367.
Industry wide, however, trucks and SUVs have proven less and less attractive to consumers as gasoline rocketed above $4 a gallon and still sits at $3.810 on average for unleaded.
Toyota as kept the workers at its San Antonio facility occupied with other projects during the idle period rather than laying them off. The decision to continue making, but exporting the Tundra will certainly guarantee the safety of those jobs for the immediate future.
While Toyota has always imported cars into the U.S., including the popular Camry, heretofore it has not used its American facilities for any significant export operations.