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Toyota's Tundra Picking Up Steam

Monday, 4 Jun 2007 | 10:44 AM ET
Toyota Tundra
AP
Toyota Tundra

It's hard to say any one month is a "coming of age" for a new or redesigned vehicle, but May could be the watershed month Toyota has been waiting for in it's push to grab more market share in pick-up trucks.

Last month, Tundra sales increased 112%. You read that right, 112%. Which means Toyota more than doubled sales of it's star truck year over year. More importantly, Tundra sales eclipsed the pace the company needs to hit if it will be successful in hitting it's stated goal of selling 200,000 Tundras this year.

Part of the reason for the increase is Toyota spending more on Tundra incentives to move the truck now, compared to when it first came out earlier this year. Another reason is that Toyota's marketing blitz (heavy TV commercial rotation, grass roots campaigns at Bass pro shops, NASCAR exposure) is starting to pay off. Toyota's spending a billion dollars to push this new Tundra, and clearly the company is finally getting the desired results.

Are the big 3 worried? To the extent Tundra forces them to ratchet up incentives which then cut in to profit margins the folks in Detroit are certainly concerned. This does not mean, they won't respond. GM's full size Sierra and Silverado have been redone and are holding their own. Ford's F-series gets a sped up redesign next year, and the Dodge Ram is likely to see the same shortly after that. Unlike the '70's, when the Japanese automakers ate Detroit's lunch with small fuel efficient cars, Detroit is ready this time around for the challenge from Toyota.

Wednesday night, during "Business Nation" at 8 PM Eastern on CNBC, I will go in depth and report on Toyota's Tundra campaign. It's an intriguing look at the Japanese automaker and it's most important vehicle launch ever.

The Tundra is rolling and Toyota believes this is just the start.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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