Here at Toyota, we’re known for our sedans – but the T in Toyota also stands for “trucks.” Tundra, Tacoma, TRD: we are the T brand. We love the whole truck thing – Rugged, roomy, and built.
Not long ago, a customer called to tell us his Tundra had driven a million miles. He brought the truck in and our engineers pulled it apart bolt by bolt in order to learn just what a million miles looks like on the inside of a vehicle.
So, as we anticipate the roll-out of updates to the fall 2020 TRD Pro models – Tundra, Tacoma, 4Runner, and Sequoia – we thought it was time to celebrate the glories of the truck. We’ll talk to the people to engineer and build trucks, and we’ll hear the story of the greatest truck feat in Toyota history: the Shuttle Pull.
Because it’s never a question of cars or trucks. It’s always going to be cars and trucks. I mean, when asked cake or pie, isn’t the right answer cake and pie?
The People Who Build Trucks
Our first guest is Mike Sweers, the Executive Chief Engineer for the Toyota Tundra, Sequoia, Tacoma and 4Runner vehicle programs at Toyota Motor North America, Research and Development (TMNA R&D). The role of the chief engineer is similar to that of the director of a movie. The chief engineer is responsible for the vision and the execution of a vehicle; he is the first owner, the target driver, and the ultimate gearhead of that model.
So, not surprisingly, Sweers is a sought-after truck and SUV guru at Toyota. Since 2017 he’s been in Japan helping to translate why we love trucks so much here in America – big, thundering trucks – and ensuring that we are designing and building the best and safest trucks for our customers.
Sweers is followed by Kevin Voelkel, the new President of TMMTX, which is Toyota’s truck plant in Texas. This is where every single Toyota truck is produced, for the entire world. There are 31 katashikis, or different variations, of trucks that come off the line, making it the highest variation of vehicles on a single line in North America.
Toyota Shuttle Pull
But the truck love doesn’t end there because we one more tale to tell: the story of the Tundra and the space shuttle.
In 2012 the California Science Center had a problem – and Toyotans love to solve problems. The space shuttle Endeavor was to be taken out of service and installed at the Center as part of its permanent exhibit. Which meant it had to, somehow, be towed through the streets of Los Angeles from its delivery point at LAX to the museum.
Joining us to share his first-person account of the 5,600 pound truck staring a nearly 300,000 space ship right in the nose cone is our old friend Russ Koble, Communications Manager Advanced Technologies.
If you’re ever in LA, you can stop by the California Science Center and say hello to that brave little Toyota.
And, if you’re ever in Texas, come check out the TMMTX plant! You can head over to toyotatexas.com/tour for more information. It’s incredible to see in action.
Tour TMMTX: toyotatexas.com/tour Watch: “Space shuttle Endeavour's trek across LA: Timelapse”