Toyota Motor Corp. will use sheet molded compound for at least some of its future truck beds, joining a growing number of automakers adopting composites for their pickups.
Budd Co. announced June 13 it will build a new plant in Tijuana, Mexico, to make the SMC inner box for Tokyo-based Toyota's U.S. operation, Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America Inc.
Neither Toyota nor Troy, Mich.-based Budd provided any details on the plan - and executives from Toyota were not available to say if it plans to use composites for external body panels.
However, the shift will mean more exposure for the plastics industry.
The new Toyota truck-bed assembly plant in Tijuana will supply production of the Tacoma trucks at Fremont, Calif., starting in 2004. Toyota sold nearly 162,000 Tacoma trucks in 2001, up 10 percent from 2000.
Budd will produce the SMC material at its Van Wert, Ohio, plant.
The auto supplier has not selected a specific site yet for its plant, said Rick Urso, president of Budd's plastics division.
The factory will be Budd's second operation in Mexico and its first plastics facility in the country.
Budd already produces an SMC box for Ford Motor Co.'s Explorer Sport Trac, the first commercial composite box to hit the market, in 2000.
General Motors Corp. currently has reaction injection molded boxes on the Chevrolet Avalanche and Cadillac Escalade EXT, and as an option of its Silverado trucks.