This is Toyota's year of the truck and SUV - and four new models arriving at dealerships prove it.
In the shadows of the Ford world headquarters, Toyota previewed its latest products aimed squarely at a market dominated by Ford, GM and DaimlerChrysler.
Biggest among them is the full-size Sequoia SUV, which takes on the Chevrolet Tahoe and the Ford Expedition. Toyota has high hopes for the Sequoia. It expects to sell 60,000 of them this year. The automaker is unfazed by some predictions that higher gas prices and declining popularity of big SUVs may send future consumers to other types of vehicles.
"There are risks that everyone takes with new products," says Alan DeCarr, vice president of sales for Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc. "But there will be people who want large SUVs. You've got to meet that or you'll be extinct."
Another new offering by Toyota is a bigger, longer and more powerful compact RAV4 SUV. Most of its buyers are women. Toyota hopes beefing up the RAV4 will attract more male buyers.
Also new for 2001: a compact Tacoma pickup truck with four doors. And due out next month is the mid-size Highlander which looks like an SUV but, like the RAV4, is based on a car platform.