Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Toyota Prepares to Push the 2016 Tacoma as GM's New Trucks Gain

By John Rosevear - Oct 2, 2015 at 6:04PM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

Toyota is preparing its biggest advertising push for the Tacoma in a decade, as sales of its new rivals, the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, continue to grow.

The all-new 2016 Toyota Tacoma has begun arriving at U.S. dealers. Image source: Toyota

Toyota (TM 0.84%) has an all-new version of its midsize Tacoma pickup for 2016. And it plans to make sure that everyone knows about it.

The company is launching a major new ad campaign for its popular pickup, including new television ads that will debut on Monday.  Toyota executives told Automotive News that the campaign will be its biggest advertising push for the Tacoma in a decade.

The Tacoma is still the leader of the small-but-important midsize-pickup segment. But Toyota's decision to give the Tacoma a big advertising push suggests it's starting to get worried about a competitor that's coming up fast in its rearview mirror.

GM's new midsize trucks have found a lot of buyers very quickly
That competitor, General Motors (GM 1.35%) hadn't been a big player in midsize pickups for a while when it launched its all-new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon last year. But that has changed in a hurry.

According to R.L. Polk figures released this week by GM, its two new midsize trucks captured 31% of the U.S. market for midsize pickups this year through July. (The Tacoma has about half; Nissan's Frontier has most of the rest.)

The Chevrolet Colorado adds a new diesel-powered version for 2016. Image source: General Motors

The Colorado and Canyon are impressive entrants. GM has marketed them as lifestyle trucks -- personal vehicles -- rather than as miniature work trucks. That's a page from the Tacoma's playbook, and it has worked out well for GM.

The two are available with several appealing options packages, which add luxury touches and have helped keep average transaction prices strong. Reviews have been extremely positive -- the Colorado was Motor Trend's Truck of the Year for 2015 -- with the trucks being praised for their quiet rides and good handling on- and off-road. 

The formula has found plenty of interested customers. Demand is very high: The Colorado "turned" in a very short 21 days in September, GM said, indicating that dealers are selling the trucks not long after they're delivered. The factory that makes the twins is now working on three shifts, essentially around the clock. 

GM isn't standing still, either: New diesel-powered versions will begin arriving at dealers in a few months.

That's why Toyota is making a big push for the new Tacoma.

Despite pressure from GM, the Tacoma is still selling well
Toyota first unveiled the all-new 2016 Tacoma in January. Designed in Michigan, the new Tacoma doesn't look a whole lot different from the outgoing model. But Toyota made a slew of changes to its popular midsize pickup, hoping to keep it ahead of rivals like the GM twins.

The new model is in production, but supplies are still tight. Right now, Toyota dealers are still selling down the last of the outgoing 2015 Tacoma models alongside the first of the redesigned 2016s.

The all-new Tacoma retains the off-road abilities that have drawn buyers for years. Image source: Toyota

Despite the new competitive threat from GM, Tacoma sales have been quite good this year. Sales dipped in September -- possibly because of short supplies -- but total Tacoma sales are up 16.5% this year through September.

The company had a 24-day supply of Tacomas as of the end of September, which is very short. (60-90 days is typical.) The short supply might be partly due to the changeover to the new model. But it also suggests that demand is strong. Toyota executives hinted on Thursday that they might be able to sell more of the new ones if they can increase production.

More Tacoma rivals are on the way
For a long time, Toyota had this market segment more or less to itself, with Nissan's entry a distant second. GM's entries have changed that quickly, and they've drawn the notice of other rivals: Ford is expected to launch an all-new version of its Ranger midsize pickup here in a couple of years, while Fiat Chrysler is preparing a new midsize pickup based on the next-generation Jeep Wrangler.

For the all-new Tacoma, the pressure is building. Will Toyota's big ad push help the Tacoma hang on to its sales lead? We'll find out.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Stocks Mentioned

Toyota Motor Corporation Stock Quote
Toyota Motor Corporation
$155.47 (0.84%) $1.30
General Motors Company Stock Quote
General Motors Company
$32.19 (1.35%) $0.43

*Average returns of all recommendations since inception. Cost basis and return based on previous market day close.

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 07/04/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.