Volkswagen CEO: Commercial Vehicles Are Nice, but How About That Ford Ranger?

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
volkswagen ceo commercial vehicles are nice but how about that ford ranger

After weeks and months of rumors, Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess has confirmed that a badge-engineered version of the Ranger pickup is one of the possible product tie-ups between his company and Ford.

In a sit-down with Automotive News, Diess said that, while VW’s partnership with Ford is mainly focused on commercial vehicles for the European market, a range of mutually beneficial opportunities exist between the two automakers. With its overseas-market Amarok pickup growing long in the tooth, VW can easily see a Ford in its future. American buyers could see a Volkswagenized Ranger, too.

“There’s nothing signed yet with Ford. We are in talks,” Diess said. “Most of the talks have been centered around our light-duty vehicles — our small commercial vehicles business in Europe, where we found huge synergies. We are both relatively small in size against our peers, so what we’re talking about is sharing a few platforms and manufacturing sites there, which makes sense. And within the dialogue, we are also touching other options, but this will be the main focus if we come to a conclusion.”

The body-on-frame Amarok started production in 2010, employing a range of diesel engines to compete with other can’t-get-’em-here truck offerings. Development of a new model would cost money VW would probably prefer not to spend. Meanwhile, the Ford Ranger, which debuted in its present form in Europe in early 2016 (and still isn’t on sale in North America), offers buyers a choice of four- or five-cylinder diesels and a range of high-tech features.

As both companies have worked together in the past, Diess said talks are progressing well. “It feels good, and I hope we can conclude a case,” he said.

On November 1st, Scott Keogh takes over as CEO of VW’s North American region. As part of the job, Keogh’s being handed more autonomy than ever before, and it’ll be up to him whether a potential Ranger-based pickup is made available to American buyers, Diess said.

“If the Ford relationship works out well, we would have an Amarok successor, which would be then appropriate for sales worldwide — potentially as well for the United States,” Diess said. “The other option is a unibody pickup, which is something for America, which is probably still a bit risky.”

Earlier this year, the company unveiled an Atlas-based concept truck — the Tanoak — to gauge interest in the idea of a unibody VW offering for North American pickup buyers.

Diess said the Ranger platform swap is just one of many decisions VW might make in the near future, adding that Ford could make use of his company’s dedicated MEB electric architecture for its own electric vehicles. Ford is just one automaker VW is considering licensing its platform to.

Closer to home (your home…), the German automaker needs to decide where to take its American manufacturing landscape. While the automaker hopes to build certain I.D.-badged electric vehicles in the U.S., as well as more SUVs, there’s more than one way to go about this. Diess admitted that its Chattanooga assembly plant is presently too small to fulfill the automaker’s vision, meaning a second plant — or an expanded Chattanooga facility — may lie ahead. Again, this will be Keogh’s decision.

[Image: Ford Motor Company]

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  • Civicjohn Civicjohn on Nov 05, 2018

    Ford should be doing everything possible to make a deal happen. To me, walking away from autos was a short-sighted Wall Street-driven move that made some sense to the Board (er, the Fords). Perhaps I am simply too ignorant to think that CUVs have replaced sedans forever. VW is spending a ton of cash on EVs, lining up battery deals, committing to building battery plants, and Ford still has a toe in the water for autonomous driving. With respect to the latter, it appears that Level 5 is still years away from reality. GM seems to be leading the pack in the autonomous PR war, but it's still an anchor around their corporate neck - even with Lyft, Honda, and Softbank throwing cash on the table, they aren't making tangible progress according to some employees (which certainly can't be taken as fact), but now Cruise Automation is valued at $11 BILLION - about 20% of GM's total market cap! Regarding autonomy, Tesla has recently made Full Self Driving (FSD) a moving target with pricing, while scrubbing "FSD" to "Self Driving" in the Q3 shareholder letter. I believe as of today, you can get a free OTA trial from Tesla and can save some money if you pull the trigger now, it's changed like 3 times in the last couple of weeks. I think FSD was not mentioned in the shareholder letter because Tesla is still trying to walk a fine line with the SEC. I have to add that there was $130 million that showed up on Tesla's 10-Q statement as A/R that nobody seems to know where it came from. Speculation is that they may have cut a deal with Enterprise or someone like that, but it accounted for about 50% of the Q3 profit. Again, my apology for veering off here - but EVs and autonomous progress impact all auto manufacturers. I simply think VW has made significant investments regarding EVs, and VW surely could help Ford move some iron (Rangers) in other parts of the world. The only problem with shared autos is that unless there are enough differences in their product offerings, an epic fail is around the corner. I wonder if Ford still has any mojo left to build a "real Ford" (I'm having a hard time even knowing what that means anymore) on a VW platform.

  • Xflowgolf Xflowgolf on Nov 06, 2018

    There was a lot of platform sharing in the minitruck space in the USA in the 80's and 90's so this wouldn't be that new of territory. The Mazda/Ford Courier before the original Ranger. The Isuzu Hombre/Chevy S-10. Mazda and Ford teamed again for the 2nd generation Ranger/B2200. The Dodge D50 / Mitsubishi Mighty Max, etc. I'm curious how distinctive they'd go with the engineering efforts vs. a re-badge. Utilizing the cab and chassis would save a lot of loot, while still offering the opportunity for distinctive styling inside and out with brand specific sheet metal and interior trim.

    • Vulpine Vulpine on Nov 06, 2018

      The most visible difference between the Dodge and the Mitsubishi was the headlamps. The Mitsi had big, 7" single lamps while the Dodge had quad 4" lamps. The Ford/Mazda models were more difficult to tell apart and I don't remember EVER seeing an Isuzu Hombré.

  • Jim Bonham Full EVs are not for everyone, they cannot meet all needs. Hybrids do a much better job of providing the benefits of EVs without most of the drawbacks. I have a hybrid sedan with plenty of room, plus all the bells and whistles. It has 360 hp, AWD, does 0-60 in just over 5 sec.(the instant torque is a real benefit), and I get 29 mpg, average. NOT driven lightly. I bought it used for $25k.Sure, it's a little heavier because of the battery, motor, etc., but not nearly as much as a full EV. The battery is smaller/lighter/cheaper and both the alternator and starter motor are eliminated since the motor assumes those functions. It's cool to watch the charge guage show I'm getting energy back when coasting and/or braking. It's even cooler to drive around part of the time on battery only. It really comes in handy in traffic since the engine turns off and you don't waste fuel idling. With the adaptive cruise control you just let the car slowly inch along by itself.I only wish it were a Plug-in Hybrid (PHEV). Then, I'd have A LOT more EV-only range, along with even more of that instant torque. The battery would be bigger, but still a fraction of the size of a full EV. I could easily go weeks without using much, if any gas (depending upon my commute) IF I plug it in every night. But I don't have to. The gas engine will charge the battery whenever it's needed.It's just not as efficient a way to do it.Electric companies offer special rates for both EVs and PHEVs which lower your operating cost compared to gasoline. They'll even give you a rebate to offset the cost of installing a home charger. You can still get federal (up to $7,500, plus some state) tax credits for PHEVs.What's not to like? My next daily driver will be a PHEV of some kind. Probably a performance-oriented one like the new Dodge Hornet or one of the German Hybrid SUVs. All the benefits, sound, feel, etc., of a gas vehicle along with some electric assist to improve fuel economy, performance, and drivability. None of the inherent EV issues of cost, range anxiety, long charging times, poor charger availability, grid capacity issues, etc. I think most people will eventually catch on to this and go PHEV instead of going full EV. Synthetic, carbon-neutral eFuels, hydrogen engines, and other things will also prevent full EVs from being 100% of the fleet, regardless of what the politicians say. PHEVs can be as "clean" (overall) as full EVs with the right fuels. They're also cheaper, and far more practical, for most people. They can do it all, EVs can't.
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