Hyundai Santa Cruz Pickup Sets Sales Record: Now Toyota Wants A Piece

It took Hyundai to bring back the small pickup. With the success of the Santa Cruz and Ford’s Maverick, all manufacturers are now looking at the long-lost segment. One of those looking is Toyota. Now it says it sees a sub-Tacoma as a good fit for the Japanese automaker. 

Both The Santa Cruz and Maverick combined have seen sales of over 50,000 through last month. And the surprising thing is that Hyundai’s sales are off by 16,000 units according to Automotive News. But the Santa Cruz set a sales record last month. 

“A compact pickup could be a possibility”

Toyota A-BAT
2008 Toyota A-BAT concept | Toyota

In recent conversations at the Toyota Headquarters Conference in Texas, Bob Carter, Executive Vice President for Toyota North America, said, “Today, we have the market really well covered with Tacoma, but a compact Toyota pickup could be a possibility and something we continue to look at.” And that’s not all.

Cooper Ericksen, group Vice President of product planning, said, “The more that Ford sells, frankly, the more that Hyundai sells, the more we’ll be able to get good research on who these customers are, why they want this vehicle. And we’ll see if that’s the space that we want to enter into.” Remember, the new Tacoma is nine inches taller and almost three feet longer than the Tacoma it replaced. 

Toyota pickup trucks have gained size and weight

2024 Toyota Tacoma EV teaser
2024 Toyota Tacoma EV teaser | Toyota

As with all pickup truck segments, they have ballooned in size from previous generations. But a smaller size and more affordable price are all good reasons for buyers to flock back to what was once considered mini-truck territory. The difference would be that they undoubtedly are four-door models and not the smaller two-door regular cabs of their forebearers. 

And to add some emphasis, those older minitrucks from the likes of Toyota, Nissan, and even Mazda, still sell for decent money in relatively good condition. Especially in SoCal, where the weather has been kind to old sheet metal, you still see them on a regular basis. And there are a gazillion Tacomas spritzing around LA. Granted, that’s just observational, but the point is that this segment maybe never went away in Cali. 

Plus, numerous Toyota personnel at the conference said they are anticipating VW’s move to bring back the Scout. It will also give them perspective, though that is a long way away if they’re still doing market research then. 

Toyota has the new Tacoma coming, then the 4Runner, and then…

 Toyota A-BAT
2008 Toyota A-BAT concept | Toyota

Toyota is well along in testing and evaluating its next Tacoma, which is expected to see production later this year. Then, the 4Runner will be released soon after. So from a timing perspective, 2025 would seem to be the perfect time to release another smaller Toyota pickup truck. That means they’re not just talking about it at the conference, but are developing it right now. 

This is, of course, all speculation. But it’s really more than that when a new segment is starting to take off, and Toyota is still on the sidelines, watching the compact truck parade go by.