Ford chairman and CEO Bill Ford on Thursday said he had plans for the F-150 pickup line to counter anything from Toyota, suggesting his design and engineering teams were already working on a freshened or new model of the truck launched just last year.

According to Reuters , the Ford family scion was speaking at an investment conference in New York, where he was asked about Toyota’s plans to open a new assembly plant late next year outside San Antonio, Texas, to build an all-new version of its Tundra pickup.

The news agency said the truck, designed for American tastes and powered by a big V8 engine, is expected to be a formidable competitor in the pickup segment and a vehicle that could put a chink in the armour of Ford’s rival F-150, a perennial best-seller that generates a major percentage of Ford’s automotive profits.

But Bill Ford reportedly said that Toyota, which overtook his company last year as the world’s second-largest vehicle maker in terms of global sales, was “not invulnerable.”

According to Reuters, he declined to elaborate but said Ford was keeping a close eye on Toyota and would not take any new competition lying down.

“Suffice it to say they have our attention,” Ford reportedly said of the Japanese juggernaut, whose stock value of about $US120 billion exceeds the combined worth of Ford, General Motors and DaimlerChrysler.

“Just as they analyse us, and our potential strongholds and weakness, we do the same for them,” Ford said, according to the report. “They’re a very good company but they’re not invulnerable.”

Reuters noted that Toyota Motor stripped Ford of its crown as the maker of America’s best-selling car in 1997, and may soon be gunning for its share of the lucrative full-size pickup truck market.