Volkswagen of America Boss Envisions Getting People Out of SUVs and Into a Pickup

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

A Volkswagen concept that’s not really a concept appeared in New York City this week, aimed at gauging the American public’s level of interest in a unibody pickup that leans heavily in the direction of “crossover with a bed.”

While South American customers will soon be able to purchase a VW Tarok, the automaker says the model won’t come here. But something like it might. Unlike the company’s brawny Tanoak concept, a vehicle mimicking the Tarok could be offered at a lower price point, and that’s something that interests VW of America head Scott Keogh.

Speaking to Autoblog on the sidelines of the New York Auto Show, Keogh says he can see exactly where such a model would fit in the brand’s lineup.

“We can come in with an extremely smart price point,” he said. “I think you could put a vehicle like that in the marketplace for mid-20s with proper engine, proper everything.”

For South American buyers, the only engine available in the Tarok is a turbocharged 1.4-liter four-cylinder borrowed from the brand’s small car line. Any truck offered in America would need a power boost, and the Atlas, which shares a platform with the Tarok, has the solution — a turbo 2.0-liter and 3.6-liter V6.

While Volkswagen has expressed interest in the midsize pickup space, it has also expressed reservations. The main players are very well established, as well as body-on-frame, and its ranks are growing. Considering VW doesn’t seem interested in offering a rebadged Ford Ranger in this continent, would it be worth it to to develop an extended-platform midsizer like a Tanoak, or keep the Atlas’ wheelbase and try to offer something new at a lower price?

The Atlas starts at $30,895 (before destination) for the vanishingly rare front-drive four-cylinder model, and a model like the Tanoak, boasting an 11-inch wheelbase stretch, would find itself competing directly with similarly priced BOF pickups. Hardly an attractive prospect.

With something like the Tarok, Keogh said, VW wouldn’t just be luring pickup intenders — it might move people out of their modestly priced crossovers and SUVs.

VW’s American arm has more autonomy than in years past, part of the automaker’s move to decentralize its planning and keep on top of regional trends. If Keogh can make a case for a Tarok-like truck, head office is likely to listen. And Keogh is interested.

“We do see a big trend in terms of outdoor enthusiasm,” Keough said. “Do I see more opportunity than I did before? I do.”

[Image: Volkswagen]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Sirwired Sirwired on Apr 18, 2019

    If VW holds true to form, they'll make a decision two years from now, and take another four years to bring it to the US market.

  • Steve203 Steve203 on Apr 18, 2019

    I don't see Ridgelines at every traffic light. In fact, they are downright rare here in metro Detroit. Don't see FCA chomping at the bit to bring in the Toro either.

    • See 6 previous
    • Vulpine Vulpine on Apr 19, 2019

      @Steve203: Maybe not crew cab but certainly an extended cab (shorter bed, too). In many ways, that would be a near-ideal truck for what I wanted but my wife's wants now demanded a larger truck that I think the Toro could service (if I can convince her that a 24' travel trailer is far more than we need.)

  • Jkross22 if at first you don't succeed, don't change the styling, increase the price and pretend you have no competition.-Fiat Marketing Dept.
  • Exner fan Can a CT go through an automatic car wash?
  • SCE to AUX Here's the affordable EV you've been asking for. At $34k, it will crush the $39k Model 3.Sure, the Model 3 has twice the range, interior volume, acceleration, looks, and mfr support, but the Fiat is cheaper, made with Italian flair. And we like their CEO better.
  • Eliyahu The odds of finding a Pruis SE plugin appear to be close to 0. Possibly vaporware found only on the Toyota configurator.
  • Paul Alexander Hahaha!