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California and the West

Toyota prices Tundra above rival pickups

January 25, 2007|John O'Dell | Times Staff Writer

Toyota Motor Corp., banking on its reputation for quality and high resale values, is pricing its redesigned full-size 2007 Tundra pickup trucks $1,000 or more above most competitors.

Although some analysts see the step as potentially dangerous at a time the pickup market is softening, Toyota justifies the pricing it announced Wednesday as an effort to "accurately price according to the value of the vehicle," said Denise Morrissey, a spokeswoman for Toyota's Torrance-based U.S. sales unit.

She also hinted that Toyota, although loath to use rebates and other price-reducing measures, could add some type of incentive if necessary to help meet its goal of selling 200,000 of the trucks this year, a 61% increase from 2006 sales.

"Buyers in this market have come to expect incentives, so we are considering some," Morrissey said.

Chrysler Group's Dodge Ram pickups, the only models in the class with list prices close to Toyota's, carried $5,000 cash rebates last month, and the popular Ford Motor Co. F-150 was being sold with a $3,000 rebate.

The new Tundras, which are scheduled to start hitting dealer showrooms next month, will start at $22,290. They will top out, before optional equipment is added, at $41,850 for a four-door crew cab model with four-wheel drive and the optional 381-horsepower V-8 engine.

That's considerably higher than General Motors Corp.'s competing 2007 Chevrolet Silverado 1500-Series pickups, the only other all-new design in the market.

GM's prices range from $18,760 for a basic model to $38,990 for a four-wheel-drive crew cab model, according to Edmunds.com, an online automotive information service.

The GM trucks do not have cash incentives but are available with below-market interest rates to qualified buyers.

Dodge's 2007 Ram pickups range from $22,170 to $41,410 before incentives.

Ford starts the basic F-150 pickup at $19,200 and tops it out, before options and incentives, at $40,280.

"Toyota's starting prices could make it challenging to sell the 200,000 they want to sell this year," said Jesse Toprak, chief analyst at Santa Monica-based Edmunds.com.

Sales of full-size pickups fell almost 10% last year to 2.2 million as gasoline prices rose, compelling many customers to switch to more fuel-efficient vehicles, and construction activity fell, slowing a key part of the truck market.

But Toyota has a lot of loyalists in the U.S., and "most pickup shoppers have decided what brand they want before they start looking for a truck, so the higher prices might not hurt" the company's truck sales this year, Toprak said.

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john.odell@latimes.com

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