Ready to Roll -- Team member Cruz Montano gives the thumbs-up sign to TMMBC's new frame load area.
Toyota can’t make its hugely popular Tacoma pickup truck fast enough.
"Right now if you ask our dealers what's the No. 1 vehicle we need more of, what are customers coming in [to buy] and we don't have enough to supply their needs, it's Tacoma," TMNA Chief Executive Officer Jim Lentz told Automotive News
recently. "That's true here, that's true in Mexico, that's true in Canada, that's true in Hawaii."
The plan to build a new plant in partnership with Mazda
is one piece of a very large puzzle that will eventually help to alleviate this shortfall. That $1.6 billion investment, shared equally between the two companies, will result in a U.S.-based facility that will produce approximately 300,000 vehicles annually and employ up to 4,000 workers. If all goes as anticipated, operations will start in 2021.
But Toyota Motor Manufacturing de Baja California (TMMBC), which along with Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas currently produces Tacoma, is ready to do its part now.
Before and After -- The photo above is of TMMBC prior to the 47,000-square-foot expansion. The photo below shows the plant's footprint after completion of construction.
‘This Is a Major Change’
During its summer shutdown in July, TMMBC has been working on a significant expansion of its capacity. Construction on the 47,000 square feet of additional assembly space began last fall and took just eight months to complete. When fully up to speed, TMMBC will be able to assemble close to 170,000 Tacomas annually – an increase of 67 percent in output.
“This is a major change, the largest in our history,” says Eliel Cole, assembly technical skill manager. “The next biggest was in 2007, when we increased production from 30,000 to 50,000. But that was nothing compared with this.”
Putting the pedal to the metal has been a way of life for TMMBC since it was established in 2003. When it first started making Tacomas, a new one rolled off the line every 420 seconds. By 2007, it had quickened the pace to 265 seconds. But, in keeping with the Toyota Production System, TMMBC continued to refine its processes over the ensuing years. And, in 2015, it added a third production shift.
The net result? TMMBC now assembles a new Tacoma every 190 seconds.
“Our goal is 113 seconds,” says Cole. “We plan to get there by January. The facility expansion is key. But it’s also about rebalancing all our processes and improving our efficiency thru waste elimination. We are working hard to fulfill the Tacoma demand with the quality that represents us and puts a smile in our customer faces.”
Time is Money -- Team member Facundo Lopez (right) monitors operation of the new frame flip mechanism. Once all of the upgraded processes are fully operational, TMMBC anticipates it will be able to churn out a new Tacoma every 113 seconds -- a big improvement on the 190 seconds pre-expansion.
Competition is Heating Up
Odds are, they’ll be needed. Through the first seven months of the year, Toyota’s light truck sales have jumped 8.8 percent. But Tacoma sales are up just 0.3 percent. Its days’ supply is in single digits vs. the more optimal 30-40 days.
Meanwhile, new competitors such as the Chevrolet Colorado, GMC Canyon and Honda Ridgeline have begun to cut into Tacoma’s market share lead. An all-new Ford Ranger is due by the end of 2018.
Bottom line: The TMMBC capacity expansion isn’t a “nice to have.” It’s a “must have.”
To further grasp the impact, check out these two videos:
Editor’s note: The workforce increase at TMMBC does not affect employment in the U.S. In fact, Toyota’s joint venture with Mazda will add about 4,000 American jobs.
By Dan Miller