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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkBusiness News | June 2005 

Made for Mexico Tacomas
email this pageprint this pageemail usDiane Lindquist - Union-Tribune

Toyota plans to start selling Tijuana-made Tacoma pickups in Mexico this fall. Currently, the Tacomas made there are sold only in the United States.

"Pickups are a growing segment in the country," Toyota sales spokeswoman Ana Maria Vallarino said yesterday from Mexico City. "It's a popular product. ... We're building momentum."

Offering the Tacoma means the addition of a Mexican-made vehicle to the 11 vehicle models sold in the Mexican market, she said. Among them are six cars, four SUVs and one pickup, the Argentine-produced HiLux, which is not offered in the United States.

About 24,000 Toyota vehicles were sold in Mexico in 2004, Vallarino said, and the company expects to sell 35,000 units there this year. "We're at a pretty good moment for the brand in Mexico," she said.

Toyota's increasing sales are in contrast with the struggles of U.S. rivals General Motors and Ford. GM remains the largest automaker in the world, but Toyota is only slightly behind.

Toyota sales throughout North America last year totaled 2.27 million vehicles.

The automaker's year-end net income, reported last month, set a record at $11 billion from sales that were up 7.3 percent from the previous year.

Quarterly earnings, however, slipped 17 percent from the same period a year ago to $2.8 billion. Corporate executives said the company's global expansion was responsible for the decline.

Toyota has four assembly plants in North America, including the one in Tijuana. A plant near San Antonio, Texas, is to begin operation next year.

The company began selling its vehicles in Mexico three years ago, about the same time it started development of the plant on the east side of Tijuana near Tecate.

In addition to the pickups, the $140 million plant makes Tacoma truck beds, which are shipped to a plant in Fremont, Calif., for assembly. Annual production in Tijuana reached a rate of 30,000 vehicles and 180,000 truck beds last year.

Vallarino said the Tacomas will go on sale in Mexico in September, although no definite date has been set.

Toyotas are sold at 32 dealerships in Mexico. The number of outlets are expected to increase by the time the Tacomas roll onto the Mexican market, she said.

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