Toyota cautiously increases its US light-truck output

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Meeting the high demand for SUVs and crossovers in the US, Toyota Motor plans to slightly boost the production this year, but it is also evaluating the probability of a slower market.

Toyota Motors already revealed its plans of boosting its production capacity to meet the US growing demand for trucks and SUVs, as these segments were the main drivers behind the record 2015 auto sales in the country. Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota North America, wanted to reiterate the automaker’s intentions into this direction, saying the shift is already underway. Throughout last year, output capacity for Toyota, Lexus and Scion was equally divided between trucks and cars, with a slightly increase in December, when trucks accounted for 53 percent. Now, Toyota’s light-truck production supplies 54 percent of the mix, Lentz told Automotive News during the Detroit Auto Show. The automaker is already speeding up its Texas assembly line to build more pickups, also ordering more RAV4 crossovers from Canada, while the Indiana plant is due to boost its pace in spring by adding another 30,000 Highlander crossovers to the output. “We are moving production as rapidly as we can,” Lentz said. “We’re making a bunch of small adjustments that allow us to pick up 10,000 here, 20,000 there, 30,000 there.”

However, Toyota is acting more cautiously than other automakers, having no intention to push production to unjustified levels, in part because “in our rearview mirror is the deep recession to 10 million units,” Lentz said. “I can’t tell you how long gas prices will stay low. All it takes again is something getting sunk in the Straits of Hormuz, and the price of gas changes overnight. I don’t want to put all my eggs in one basket,” he added.

Via Automotive News