With news of Volkswagen apparently considering the Amarok pickup for sale in Canada comes the strange sense of deja vu that us socialist Northerners get whenever an enticing, not-sold-in-America product is discussed.
As recently as 2009, a senior Volkswagen exec was overheard discussing the plight of the Volkswagen Polo. Apparently, dealers were crying out for the car, amid record gas prices in 2008. TDI sales were accounting for as much as 50 percent of Volkswagen’s total mix, and the dealers thought an even more efficient subcompact with a TDI option would be a slam dunk.
Not so. Homologating the Polo would have simply cost too much, as our vehicle standards are nearly in line with the United States. Certifying a car for a market the size of the United States might be feasible. But for a market one-tenth the size, it’s in the territory of “notgonnahappen.com”. To pour salt on the dealer body’s wounds, Australia, a market similar in size, gets the Polo, but only because their standards are much more relaxed.
And so we come to the Amarok, the pickup truck that Volkswagen fanboys have been drooling over since its introduction. Canadians like Volkswagens, diesels and small vehicles. Should be a no-brainer, right? Not quite. The big dogs of the Canadian pickup market are the Ford F-Series, Chevrolet/GMC Twins and the RAM line. Together they accounted for nearly 84 percent of the market in 2011. The top selling compact, the Ford Ranger, got a mere 5.5 percent of the market. The Toyota Tacoma got just 2.6 percent market share.
Just like the United States, compact pickups appear to be a non-starter in Canada. Granted, the Amarok does have a VW badge and ostensibly a TDI option. Those would count for something. The unknown costs of certifying the Amarok are the biggest variable here, but VW of America is apparently not going to take the Amarok, making the economic case that much harder. While the Autoblog article notes that Volkswagen sold the MKIV Golf and Jetta as the “City” line long after the MKV debuted, those cars had already been homologated for Canada. This is a totally different story.