With sales of Tundra and Tacoma pickup trucks flying off dealer lots at a faster clip than anticipated, Toyota is considering expanding production at its San Antonio plant, 1200 WOAI news has learned.
Mario Lozoya, a spokesman for Toyota Motor Manufacturing Texas, confirmed that the plant is seriously considering something that has never been considered before, adding a third shift at the south side plant.
"We're stuck to mechanical issues," he said. "There is also a maintenance window that we need to use to maintain our equipment."
The huge assembly line at the ten seven year old plant have never operated round the clock.
Toyota currently operates two full shifts plus a Saturday overtime shift to keep up with demand for the trucks.
When the plant opened in November of 2006, Toyota officials pegged peak production at 200,000 Tundras a year. The plant added about half of the Tacoma production line in 2010 when Toyota shut down its joint venture with General Motors in California, but it was only this year, after the construction recession ended, that pickup sales took off.
And took off they did. Toyota has some an amazing 248,000 Tundras and Tacoma combined through the first eleven months of 2011, up an amazing 14% from last year.
Toyota had expected the pickup market to be relatively flat in 2013, with only a growth of 1.7 million units this year.
Lozoya says a boost in production would mean a ton of new jobs.
"Not just in Toyota itself but also for our suppliers."
Toyota and the suppliers which ring the plant are currently at peak employment, with some 5400 employees between them.
Toyota would also have to make a major investment in equipment if it were to add a third shift at the plant. Toyota has already spent $2.2 billion in its San Antonio faculty.
This is an amazing turnaround for Toyota from 2011, when the combined impact of the recession and the huge tsunami in Japan had local plant workers painting community centers and repairing playgrounds.
"Currently we are in a phase where we are struggling to meet demand, which is a good problem to have," Lozoya said.