There's the pickup truck market in the U.S. as a whole, and then there's the pickup truck market in Texas where one in seven of all trucks in this country is sold. Aside from its gluttonous appetite for full-size trucks, Texas is also a symbolic battleground where domestic automakers have long been been waging war for the mindshare of good old boys who represent their typical truck buyer. Enter the new Toyota Tundra, which last year saw its sales in Texas climb by an impressive 79 percent in Texas, while sales of domestic pickups shrank by 5%. The Tundra's increase even outpaced the truck's performance on a national scale, where its sales rose by 54%. While we couldn't find raw numbers for pickup sales in Texas last year and therefore can't know if the Tundra climbed a few spots on the best-seller list, it no doubt stole a good chunk of buyers from its Detroit-based competition.
What does this mean? We're no analysts, but we can tell you that Toyota learned how to play the incentive game pretty quickly, which gave the Tundra a fighting chance against the Ford F-150, Chevy Silverado, GMC Sierra and Dodge Ram, all of which were heavily incentivised, as well. It also means that Toyota was smart to locate the Tundra's assembly plant in San Antonio. No doubt the new jobs that were created in the area created some good will for the Japanese automaker's pickup.
The Tundra's success in Texas last year also tells us that Toyota released its redesigned pickup at just the right time. Of its four major competitors, only the Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra were all new. The F-150 and Ram were both waiting out the last year of their current product cycles and were, to some extent, vulnerable to a brand new competitor that stacked up well on paper. All that ends this, year, however, when the 2009 Ford F-150 and 2009 Dodge Ram go on sale. At that point, the full-size truck market will be stocked with next-gen pickups that offer cleaner engines, more capability and new features.