By Nat Shirley
Thursday, Jul 28th, 2011 @ 2:38 pm
 
Its been a long, long time since an automaker has invested money in the compact pickup segment. The Ram (née-Dodge) Dakota hasn't received anything other than a name change since 2007, the Nissan Frontier hasn't gotten a major update since its introduction in 2005 and the nearly departed Ford Ranger has barely been altered, besides minor styling updates, for decades.

Bucking that trend is the Toyota Tacoma, which will receive an updated interior, new entertainment options and revised exterior styling. Frame and engine choices will remain unchanged, meaning that Toyota isn't pumping serious money into the little truck, but in the context of the moribund segment even relatively minor changes are noteworthy.

"It's an important segment for us because it provides us with young customers," said Bob Carter, Group Vice President and brand manager for Toyota.

Carter stated that compact pickups could see a sales resurgence if gas prices continue to increase. Supporting that theory is the fact that Toyota sold more Tacomas than full-size Tundras through the first half of the year. Toyota will also have more of the market to itself when Ford finally euthanizes the Ranger next year.

Carter also reiterated that Toyota's part supply situation is stabilizing following the March disaster and that production should be back to full capacity by September.

References
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