I am just curious to see how successful the posters on PC think Toyota's new Tundra will be? In the word's of Toyota's Jim Press" the biggest, bad-ass truck on the planet". Toyota's 'Team Tundra' is ready for a tussle Group works to eliminate pinch points before launch Mark Rechtin | | Automotive News / December 18, 2006 - 1:00 am LOS ANGELES -- Just inside the doorway to the Tundra launch team's ranch-style war room is a sign of Toyota's take-no-prisoners attitude about the new pickup. Pasted to the wall is one of those "Calvin" decals that truckers slap on their vehicles. Except that in this case, the cartoon figure is stomping on the logos of the Chevy bow tie, Ford oval and Dodge Ram. Toyota used to be modest about its plans to sell full-sized pickups. No more. After two misfires, the automaker is ready for a tussle in the truck wars. The war room proves it although the "Calvin" decal was removed after a reporter saw it. Typically, the company has sold 100,000 to 120,000 Tundras annually. But for the redesigned model, which debuts in February, Toyota has targeted 200,000 units in its first year. The eventual goal is closer to 300,000. The only way to reach that volume is by stealing customers from domestic competitors. As reported, Toyota is spending more than $100 million - huge by Toyota standards - to launch the redesigned pickup. To get it right, the company created a dedicated team. Normally, departments such as marketing, product planning, distribution and public relations operate separately. They communicate, of course, but stay fairly autonomous. Not so with the new Tundra. Each department assigned an employee to the launch. The group of 14 managers and employees operate in the war room three days of the week. They work in their own departments the two other days. 'Truck Territory' "Team Tundra" was created by Jim Farley, Toyota Division's vice president of marketing. And it consists of some of Toyota's rising stars. "For a launch this important, departments like incentives, distribution and promotions need to be linked to each other," Farley says. "It's like the start of a separate truck division." It's not your typical Toyota office. The team has created its own corral within Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. headquarters in Torrance, Calif. Entering the war room, one passes under a ranch-style entrance branded with "Truck Territory." The usual Steelcase desks are framed with crude two-by-fours. A visitor nearly trips over a stray target ramp for a beanbag-toss game. Pictures of Tundras in serious work mode are scattered about the walls. A white board contains hastily written briefing notes. Each manager has a desk at the window. Unlike the rest of Toyota, wearing blue jeans to work on Fridays is allowed. A common table in the center of the room allows for impromptu meetings. "This way, we can brainstorm and integrate our plans," says team leader Brian Smith, whose title is corporate manager of truck operations. "We want to be on time and together at launch. All our processes need to be in place." Toyota has used war rooms - or obeyas - before in product development. Engineers, designers and product planners work together. But this is the first time Toyota has used an obeya to get the finished product to market. The goal of the Tundra team is to eliminate bottlenecks that might derail a crucial aspect of the launch. Mashing the departments in one room solves problems before they start, says Smith. For instance, the marketing and fleet guys want each region to have a pool of white, regular-cab, long-bed Tundras available for commercial clients. That idea is anathema to a distribution manager, for whom a lean inventory is the Toyota way. The distribution folks since have figured out how to handle the extra vehicles waiting for a "fleetail" order to come from a dealer. Similarly, Toyota's Vehicle Operations Group typically handles dealership training. But creating a know-it-all "truck champion" for every dealership required something more. So a separate training regimen was created instead. Working together The Tundra Team also led to some innovative thinking. For instance, the list of journalists Toyota invited to the Tundra's press launch was atypical. Usually only automotive and lifestyle publications are invited to press previews. But with Tundra's emphasis on towing and hauling, marketing urged public relations to invite magazines such as Progressive Farmer, RVExtreme, Trailer Boats and Grading & Excavation Contractor. Leading the charge was former Scion national manager Dawn Ahmed, who brought alternative publications to the youth brand's press previews. Tundra advertising will portray the ruggedness of various components. To help with that, the public relations department ordered a dissected Tundra so journalists could write about the components in detail. Meanwhile, the accessories department ordered extra parts for display at dealerships, so customers can see for themselves what is depicted in the commercials. "These things might have happened over time," Smith said. "But in the Toyota silos, it would have been 90 days later or a rush job. It would have been too expensive and too late."