Toyota's learning that in the case of the Tundra, American buyers won't just pick from the selection of trucks the dealer has left. It's a role reversal for the automaker used to people accepting whatever Camry they can get.
Former VP of Marketing Jim Farley said Tundra buyers "have a build-to-order mentality that we are not used to at Toyota." Whereas a Ford truck dealer often has an inventory that looks like the factory shipping yard, or has a dealer nearby who does, Toyota doesn't keep nearly as much inventory on hand. But truck buyers want what they want, and they don't want to pay for it until they see it. Toyota and its dealers are having to adjust. The company is using a vehicle pool, swapping Tundras between regions, and letting dealers modify orders. But as Toyota gets to know more of the American car buyer, it will find out just how many hurdles domestic makers often have to jump through to make a sale. It's not easy being number one -- just ask GM.