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

volkswagen of america boss envisions getting people out of suvs and into a pickup

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]

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9 of 24 comments
  • 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.)

  • IBx1 Took them long enough to make the dashboard look halfway decent in one of their small trucks.
  • Mcs You're right. I'd add to that right now, demand is higher than supply, so basic business rules say to raise the price. The battery tech is rapidly changing too. A battery tech in production today probably won't be what you're using in 2 years. In 4 years, something different. Lithium, cobalt, and nickel. Now cobalt and in some cases nickel isn't needed. New materials like prussian blue might need to be sourced. New sources might mean investing in mines. LMFP batteries from CATL are entering production this year and are a 15% to 20% improvement in density over current LFP closing the density gap with NCA and NCM batteries. So, more cars should be able to use LMFP than were able to use LFP. That will lower costs to automakers, but I doubt they'll pass it on. I think when the order backlogs are gone we'll stop seeing the increases. Especially once Tesla's backlog goes away. They have room to cut prices on the Model Y and once they start accumulating unsold vehicles at the factory lot, that price will come tumbling down.
  • Acd Fifteen hundred bucks for OnStar makes some of the crap Southeast Toyota Distributors and Gulf States Toyota forces their customers to buy seem like a deal.
  • EBFlex Remember when Ford was all self pleasuring about the fake lightning starting under $40k? We all knew it was BS then and that Ford was taking a massive loss just to make that happen. This solidifies that.
  • SCE to AUX Matt, I think you've answered the question well.