Volkswagen Isn’t Shying Away from the U.S. Truck Market One Bit
Expect the German automaker to hit the truck scene pretty soonby Sidd Dhimaan, on
Despite being the world’s largest automobile manufacturing company, Volkswagen has left the truck segment untapped. Although the European markets will benefit from the Volkswagen-Ford alliance and receive Ranger-based Amarok pickup trucks, the same has not been announced for the U.S. markets. However, we have learned that Volkswagen is keen on entering one of the hottest growing segments in the U.S. So, will the company go solo here, or will it choose to ally with Ford and base its trucks on the Blue Oval’s offerings?
Why Didn’t Volkswagen Go Ahead With The Tanoak?
The German automaker showcased the Atlas Tanoak pickup truck concept at the 2018 New York Auto Show.
Although the concept was warmly received and looked potent enough to be sent to the production line, Volkswagen has still not decided if it will launch a production version or not.
However, this is one market it is keen on entering. Speaking to Roadshow, Volkswagen America’s CEO, Scott Keogh, said, “We think we are now, finally, with our SUVs, a mainstream manufacturer. But without a doubt, the biggest open space is pickup. Without a doubt.”
Ford, or no Ford?
The biggest question is whether or not the company will ally with Ford to enter this hot segment. Keogh addressed this and said, "We have opportunities to do it ourselves. We have opportunities with Ford. It’s something we are 100-percent investigating.” Being one of biggest players in the market, Volkswagen will most likely choose to take the solo route and build trucks on its own rather the re-badge Ford trucks. Keogh added, “That doesn’t work for us. We have to have credibility and bring something to the table. The truck, in whatever form it takes, must be something the brand is proud of".
The Tanoak Was One Capable Truck
The unibody-design Atlas Tanoak was showcased with the Atlas’ 3.6-liter, V-6 powertrain that produces 275 horses and 266 pound-feet. It is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. The Tanoak is based on the same MQB architecture as the other models built at the company’s factory in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Since it bears a unibody design, it drew comparisons with the Honda Ridgeline. However, the Ridgeline does not offer a low-range transfer case like the Tanoak.
It Will Not Be Re-Badging The Trucks For Sure
Volkswagen has not had a pleasant experience with re-badged engineering.
The German automaker joined hands with Chrysler in the last decade to launch the re-badged version of the Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan minivans, called the Routan. The van was priced at a premium although it was the same product, thus deeming it to be largely unsuccessful. Volkswagen discontinued the Routan after a couple of years. Keeping this in mind, Keogh said, "I think this is an opportunity for Volkswagen, if you look at how we position the brand. We are capable of entering the pickup market with a car we’re proud of."
Volkswagen is already late to the party, but it has finally decided it wants a share of the pie.
Automakers sold nearly three million pickup trucks in the U.S. throughout 2018. Given that the company it has made its bed with basically runs the truck scene in the States, it would be interesting to see how Volkswagen goes ahead with its truck plans. Will it perhaps borrow only the technical know-how and build its own trucks from scratch? Or will Ford agree to build a version of its truck for Volkswagen, similar to what it is set to do with the European-spec Amarok? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Read our full review on the 2019 Volkswagen Amarok.
Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas.
Read our full speculative review on the 2019 Volkswagen Atlas Pickup.
Read our full review on the 2018 Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept.