By on November 5, 2018

2019 Ford Ranger at MAP - Image: Ford

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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16 Comments on “Volkswagen CEO: Commercial Vehicles Are Nice, but How About That Ford Ranger?...”

  • avatar

    By 2035 the only vehicles available for under $100K will be Ford trucks and electric CUVs (probably with Tesla-branded batteries).

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not so sure…I read over on some Tesla fanboy site that Ford would have to drop pickups after the Tesla pickup grabbed all their sales. But being social justice types, they had a plan to retrain all the UAW folks to install Tesla Solar roofs. (I’m not making this up….)

  • avatar

    Verrrry Interestink. It could be a way for VW to get around that dratted Chicken Tax!

  • avatar

    That didn’t work out so well with Routan/Grand Caravan.

    • 0 avatar

      To be fair the Grand Caravan was a crappy product (the Routan was the best out of the Routan/GC/T&C before the last two were refreshed) in a dying segment, and was NA only. The Ranger is by all accounts a very solid and competitive product in the midsize pickup segment.

      I wouldn’t expect the VW Ranger to be a huge out of the world success in the US, but it is an opportunity overseas where VW is stronger to get a Amarok replacement without spending a ton of money as the article notes. A VW Ranger makes far more sense than the VW Grand Caravan did.

  • avatar

    Call it Kurier…

    (German for Courier – the original Ford small truck.)

  • avatar

    I don’t get all this talk of Ford using VW’s dedicated EV archetecture, they already have their own and it will likely make it to market (at least the US market) before VW’s.

    I do see VW jumping on the Ranger bandwagon though and possibly even offering it in the US.

  • avatar

    So that’s how Ford is going to not lose as much on this 9/10ths F-150. Interesting.

  • avatar

    Why would I want to buy a Ford product with a VW logo? Makes no sense.

    Take the Golf Alltrak and make a pickup version. That’s a compelling vehicle.

    What I want in a VW:

    – made in Germany; or
    – at least give me substantially the same vehicle that is offered in Europe

    Although Audi might come closer to doing this, I wouldn’t pay Audi $$$ for a car built in Mexico. Build it in the US or a European country. Or Canada.

  • avatar

    What I want in a VW:

    – made in Germany; or
    – at least give me substantially the same vehicle that is offered in Europe

    So I assume the entire VW US lineup is pretty disappointing to you right now?

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar

    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.

    • 0 avatar

      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.

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