By on August 25, 2017

2017 Volkswagen Amarok, Image: Volkswagen

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, the manufacturer currently at the center of rampant speculation over a possible Chinese buyout and a spin-off of its Italian luxury brands, is reportedly in early talks with Volkswagen over the joint production of certain light utility vehicles.

Volkswagen, which has made crystal clear it wants nothing to do with a merger, might have products the Italian-American automaker could find beneficial. Despite the awkward back-and-forth between FCA CEO Sergio Marchionne and VW Group chief Matthias Müller earlier this year, the German automaker didn’t rule out discussions with FCA.

According to a source close to the issue, the discussions include future versions of VW’s small commercial van and, interestingly, a midsize pickup truck.

Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the source said talks are at an early stage. “It’s still very vague, we have to see if this will be pursued,” the source said.

While the extent of the potential joint venture isn’t known, the report claims VW’s Caddy panel van and Amarok pickup are sources of interest. FCA already has its own small van — the Ram ProMaster City, based on the Fiat Doblo. However, one product FCA lacks — in North America at least — is a midsize pickup.

With Ford introducing a Ranger for 2019 to battle the Toyota Tacoma, GMC Canyon/Chevrolet Colorado, Nissan Frontier, and Honda Ridgeline in the growing midsize segment, FCA remains the odd man out. Talk of a “baby Ram” has never amounted to much. The company does sell a midsize pickup overseas — the body-on-frame Fiat Fullback — but that vehicle is a Thailand-built, badge-engineered version of the Mitsubishi Triton/L200.

In Latin America, FCA sells the small, unibody Fiat Toro.

As we’ve seen with the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class, even luxury brands aren’t immune to badge engineering when a niche market needs filling. Still, any midsize pickup bound for North America would need its assembly to take place within those geographical confines, lest it be slapped with the dreaded chicken tax.

Volkswagen builds the Amarok in Argentina.

If either company were to begin Mexican assembly of the model, Ram might have the midsize pickup it needs to stay competitive in all truck segments. (Assuming, of course, that the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement talks don’t result in an import tax on Mexican-made goods.)

Maybe it’s too early to begin pining for a Mexican-made, German-designed American truck.

[Image: Volkswagen]

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25 Comments on “Fiat Chrysler, Volkswagen in Talks About Joint Truck and Van Production: Report...”


  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Honestly, such talks are logical when you consider the Fiat Toro of Brazil was designed in partnership with Mitsubishi. Lose Mitsi to Nissan/Renault and all of a sudden you’ve lost a supplier. Even worse, an up-scale version is now a Mercedes.

    However, Fiat does have an in-house designed trucklet that could open a vacant market in the US and wouldn’t be all THAT hard to redesign to meet US regulations. It would be an instant competitor to the Hyundai and already has years of road and dirt mileage under its wheels while fitting a market segment that is literally begging for a trucklet that size.

    So while FCA and Volkswagen come to terms on a mid-sized truck, FCA could break new ground with an existing model.

    • 0 avatar
      ezs

      Fiat Toro (FCA 226) is not MIT based, It is a Jeep Compass (FCA 551)/ Renegade (FCA 521) with a bed aft the cabin. all 3 are FCA CSUW Platform based. Fiat Fullback is a MIT L200 rebadge sold in Europe.

      • 0 avatar
        Vulpine

        I’ll accept that… so why not just bring the Toro to the US as-is? Making it regulation-compliant shouldn’t be that difficult considering Brazilian safety laws aren’t that much different from Euro or US and they can easily use drivelines already in use in the States.

  • avatar
    NoID

    I know the midsize truck market is growing, but I don’t know if FCA has room for two models competing in this space once they have the new Jeep Wranger-based truck (Scrambler?) in production.

    • 0 avatar
      whynot

      Probably.

      There will be people who buy the Scrambler just because it is a Wrangler pickup with no interest in/cross-shopping any other midsize pickups.

      Conversely there will be people interested in midsize pickups who will ignore the Scrambler because it is a Wrangler pickup while they want something more typical/baby full-size like.

      If GM can make having both the Canyon/Colorado work, despite sheetmetal being the only real difference between them, then FCA could probably make a Scrambler/Dakota work even at the same dealership.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    The last joint venture on a van was a dud for VW (Touran). Maybe this time it’s a more promising joint venture.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Pooling resources to cut R&D and production costs is always a great idea.

    And since this venture combines the stellar reputation for reliability of Chrysler, Fiat and VW, it will be the worlds most reliable truck. Right?

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      I place a bet that each of them decides to do the R&D on whichever systems they’re actually WORST at.

      The thing will probably make the Giulia look like a Toyota from the reliability standpoint.

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    But I thought midsize trucks are dead?

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    I guess FCA doesn’t know it already builds a midsize truck, BOF. It’s called the “Durango”. All the engineering is done. Paid for. Just put a stupid bed on it.

    But no we’re talking about FCA, the nonprofit org.

    • 0 avatar
      ash78

      I think you meant to say unibody (Durango hasn’t been BOF in years). But I agree — the fact that they’re killing the Durango means they really should consider this idea. Like you said, paid for!

  • avatar
    dukeisduke

    FCA and Volkswagen – basically a double negative, from a reliability standpoint.

  • avatar

    Not a fan of VAG but this may make sense. Take the Amarok design make it more North American friendly, Have FCA build that version for NA, and VW can keep building the other version for the rest of the world. Combined sales would likely be a little less then 100k a year thou so I’m not sure how much sense it makes.

  • avatar

    Ironic in light of the fact that Chrysler pretty much invented the midsize pickup truck with the Dodge Dakota.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Yes the Dakota was the first true midsize pickup. After the Dakota most of the others grew to midsize and now are close to full size. The full size have grown as well and the average American has grown.

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