Volkswagen: American-market Pickup Still on the Table
European and other overseas buyers will one day be able to purchase a Volkswagen version of the Ford Ranger, all thanks to the automakers’ recently forged alliance, but what about North American customers?
The dream of a German pickup in the U.S. is still alive, VW confirms. However, what that truck might look like — and who will build it — is still a question mark.
Last year saw the debut of the Atlas Tanoak concept — a four-door, unibody pickup built on a stretched Atlas platform. Its appearance at the New York Auto Show offered VW execs an opportunity to gauge the public’s reaction.
While overseas customers have access to a genuine, body-on-frame VW truck, that model’s getting long in the tooth. Hence why VW hoped to get its hands on the Euro-market Ranger. In North America, however, domestic automakers rule the truck segment, and a possible entry into that competitive field isn’t a decision that can be made lightly.
Still, VW wants a piece of the action.
Speaking to RoadShow in Geneva, Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh said, “We think we are now, finally, with our SUVs, a mainstream manufacturer. But without a doubt, the biggest open space is pickup. Without a doubt.”
If it does choose to go down that path, VW faces a choice. It could go it alone and build the Tanoak, but the company’s alliance with Ford now affords the automaker another opportunity. Both options are under consideration — with much wringing of hands and furrowed brows, it seems.
Saying “we have opportunities to do it ourselves,” Keogh added, “We have opportunities with Ford. It’s something we are 100 percent investigating.”
Should Ford’s U.S.-market Ranger become the basis for a new midsize VW pickup, Keogh doesn’t want to see a cheap exercise in badge engineering.
“That doesn’t work for us,” he said. “We have to have credibility and bring something to the table.” The truck, in whatever form it takes, must be something the brand is proud of, he added.
[Images: Volkswagen, Ford]
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