By on June 1, 2012


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 “”. 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.

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29 Comments on “Volkswagen Considering Amarok Pickup For Canada – Stop Us If You’ve Heard That Before...”

  • avatar

    Having spoken to workers who currently build this pickup in Argentina, I hope that if and when Canadians get this model, it will be the one built at the recently-announced Hanover, Germany location.

  • avatar

    TDI, StD, I would buy one of these in a heartbeat, too bad they couldn’t do a retro verison of the transporter with the opening bed gates.

  • avatar

    Having driven one of these, it’s no shame that Canada won’t get it. They’re really not very good.

  • avatar

    They may as well be considering it for the moon, for all the good it will do us Yanks.

  • avatar

    This will be the pickup that 9.9 out of 10 University of Toronto Professors who drive pickup trucks (about 0.5% of the professor population) will drive (on the weekends, when they’re not driving their Prii or Camry Hybrids).

  • avatar

    Am A Rok…
    I vas stronk as I could be
    Am A Rok…
    Nossink ehva got to me

  • avatar

    Are there any fleets in North America that use VW products? That’s my biggest concern when it comes to compact pickups.

    • 0 avatar

      Uhh…ZipCar? Budget now rents Jettas?

    • 0 avatar

      VW Canada sold the Transporter diesel here until 1997, and those vans always had a strong fleet following. Couriers like Dicom, ICS, and Dynamex used them extensively, not to mention tradespeople like plumbers, electricians, etc. VW also has fleet customers who currently use Golf Wagons (TDI, of course), like Wurth, Paclease, and others. I think a VW pick-up would sell in decent numbers in Canada, as long as AWD and diesel were part of the equation.

  • avatar

    This makes me wonder, are worldwide car standards that far out of synch? Not counting countries where anything goes, it does seems like Europe has become pretty strict over the years to the point of equaling us in red tape and regulations . You’d think if you picked the strictest standard and built to that you could easily homologate a car to just about any market.

    • 0 avatar

      Well, petition your congress-critter to push the US to sign on to the international vehicular standards that every other major world nation uses. Vehicles are basically made in three versions: World LHD, World RHD, and North America.

      If all the other automakers in a market (say, Eurozone) are building to the World specs, and you spend the extra cash to make it NA compliant, without actually requiring a NA compliant model, you’ll not be competitive.

    • 0 avatar

      @mikedt: “Europe has become pretty strict over the years to the point of equaling us in red tape and regulations…”

      Methinks you’ve got that bass-ackwards.

    • 0 avatar

      It’s not so much a difference between leniency vs. strictness as it is differences in what is viewed as important and other weirdness.

      For example, in Europe ‘Emissions Regulation’ means CO2.. in America ‘Emissions Regulation’ means Smog Particulates. (Gross oversimplification I know..) This is why in Europe they put diesel engines in damned near Everything and get great average fuel economy, whereas in the US diesels have only just started making a comeback into the passenger car market and ‘US Fuel Economy’ is still a punchline.

  • avatar

    Not that this wouldn’t be kind of cool, but when base F-150s are going for $19,999 new I highly doubt VW could make this work unless they could somehow sell this for under $13K.

    Compact pickup trucks make very little economic sense well half-tons are so very cheap. You’ll see turbo fours or small diesels in the F-150 before you’ll see anything like this.

    (that said, I always thought it would be kind of neat if, eg, Honda would knock the rear seats and hatch off to make a BRATified Fit)

    • 0 avatar

      Yes and no. I’ve owned big and small trucks, and when I get out of my breeder years and want another one, I’ll look for a compact first.

      My B2000 may not have been fast, but it was easy to drive, good on gas, and moved anything I needed it to while building an addition, moving family members, and building/breaking cars and motorcycles.

      Even if Ford builds a 50 MPG F150 and sells it for 18k… Well, that’d be pretty hard to resist… But for the same price, I’d take a 4-cyl reg-cab compact truck over a v6 regular cab full sized. It’s just easier to live with day-to-day.

  • avatar

    Isn’t it about time that we (the world) come up with just one world standard for vehicles? They tighten theirs a little, we relax ours a little, and let any car/truck (within reason) made anywhere in the world be sold anywhere in the world.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t think that’s even the case anymore. I’m not an expert, but I can’t imagine Europe’s standards are “looser” than North America.

      Part of the problem here is that Federal governments approve vehicles, but states and provinces determine what can go on the road.

      As a for-instance: Look at low-speed vehicles. In Canada, Transport Canada has approved 10-12 low speed vehicle manufacturers, but Ontario Ministry of Transport has only approved 2 (which they subsequently drove out of business). It’s the same for grey-market imports: Transport Canada says anything older than 15 years can come in, but each province sets different rules for what is required to license them.

      FMVSS/CMVSS are already ensconced in provincial/state laws, but I’d imagine there would be a big push back against ECE standards even if the feds (not this Feds) were to approve them.

    • 0 avatar

      That makes way too much sense to ever be allowed to happen. I’ve never understood why we can’t simply have a law that says that any car approved for sale in a modern, first-world, country with standards at least broadly similar, is automatically US-legal. Sort of an automatic reciprocity for any European, Japanese, Australian, Canadian, or Korean market vehicles. It would drastically reduce the cost and time to market for manufacturers, allow for fast introductions of smaller and more fuel efficient models, and lower break even sales to a point where low sales volumes of specialty models can still be profitable.

      Won’t happen though, the safety (read: insurance) lobby is way too powerful and have been peddling their Kool Aid for decades.

    • 0 avatar

      The world pretty has one standard with the exception of north america.

  • avatar

    No way this dinky thing would beat Toyota in the Flaming Corkscrew Tunnel test

    • 0 avatar

      At 1792 kg (3950 pounds) empty with its lightest engine and 5,254 mm (206.9 in) long, this thing is hardly dinky.

      Guessing you commute to your office cubicle every day in an F250 dually diesel.

  • avatar

    Perfect for the pseudo-rugged art student/hipster demographic.

  • avatar

    If VW bring the truck to Canada they might as well go the whole way and bring it to the US. There has to be a gaping hole in the market for a mid size diesel 4X4 truck big enough to sail a cargo ship packed with Amarok’s through?

    • 0 avatar

      Two words: chicken tax. That bit of protectionism still hasn’t been dismantled after 50 or so years.

      • 0 avatar

        If there was an actual market for Amaroks in the US, they’d already be here, chicken tax or not. Building them in US, Canada or Mexico assembly plants would get them around the chicken tax as well shipping ‘knock down kit’ Amaroks just like Mahindra trucks that would’ve been shipped here as incomplete units.

  • avatar

    Hope there are more models than this one. A 4 door pickup with almost no box to carry stuff is rather useless unless all you do is tow.

    If Toyota did offer a 7′ box on their Tacoma, there would be one in my driveway. There’s now way I’ll buy a full size, it’s just too huge and therefore unpractical. Meanwhile, I’ll keep my long bed Ranger.

  • avatar

    “Australia, a market similar in size, gets the Polo, but only because their standards are much more relaxed.”

    Really!? Our ADRs are routinely referred to as a form of non-tariff trade barriers locally due the fact they’re unique to our market. I would say the reason we got the Polo and Canada didn’t is we’re used to paying a great deal more for cars than the NA markets would ever bare so the business case better stacks up.

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