Volkswagen: American-market Pickup Still on the Table

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
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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3 of 8 comments
  • Fred Fred on Mar 08, 2019

    My brother has an old VW Rabbit gasoline pickup. It's a piece of junk, but it still runs. Most of the time.

    • PrincipalDan PrincipalDan on Mar 08, 2019

      There was a house in Gallup (should have taken a picture) were for many years, even into this century, the two vehicles sitting in the driveway were a mid 70s Town Car (likely a 460 V8) and an early 80s VW Caddy diesel pickup. Both in a buttery yellow cream color.

  • Carrera Carrera on Mar 08, 2019

    They would probably be able to sell as many trucks as Honda sells Ridgeline which isn't too many. Honda isn't losing too much sleep since they sell tons of CRVs, Pilots, Civics and Accords. VW isn't really a big seller in USA although I hear Tiguan and Atlas are very good sellers as VW comes. The new warranty helps of course. Pretty much best warranty in business.

  • Chuck Norton I don't see anything wrong with the name. It's an impressive little motor-and despite the fact that it has been hammered on every vehicle forum-including this one it seems to be gaining market acceptance.
  • Spookiness Other non-US markets get the Forte5 "liftback" version of this. That would be a perfect size for me and I'd consider it if it were available. I think they're good looking and good value.
  • 28-Cars-Later We have arrived.
  • MrIcky Unimogs
  • Parkave231 On the one hand, I always thought that TriPower was a horrible name for the L3B engine (and LSY, although I don't recall seeing that name applied in practice), especially since one of the three technologies reduces said power (AFM). Of all the historic GM names to bring back...On the other hand, TurboMAX is a horrible replacement name. Turbo-Quad4? (Yes, I know it's not.) FleetFour? (Seemingly target market?) FourReal?