Mulling Pickups, Volkswagen Thinks Smaller… and Long-term

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems

No one wants to fail, and certainly no one wants to be handed a steep bill for their failure. With that in mind, Volkswagen is leaning towards the smaller of the two potential pickups it’s foisted upon American auto show goers in recent years.

That means you’re far less likely to see a Tanoak at your local dealer, and much more likely to see a Tarok taking its place. Or, equally as likely, you’ll see nothing at all.

This is according to Volkswagen’s vice president of product marketing and strategy, Hein Schafer, who told Autoblog that matching the low production volume of the Honda Ridgeline with an Atlas-based midsizer is not something VW brass have much enthusiasm for.

The development dollars needed to convert the midsize CUV into the longer-wheelbase Tanoak (shown in New York in concept form in 2018) would likely scuttle the project on the drawing board. VW said that same year that significant overseas volume would be necessary to make the project a reality.

It’s no wonder that the automaker then teased the Tarok a year later. Bound for production (and the South American market) at the time, the Tarok is less pickup, more CUV-with-a-bed. A four-foot one, at that. It borrows the Atlas’ MQB platform and retains the CUV’s wheelbase, lowering development costs.

While Schafer said both vehicles garnered considerable enthusiasm from showgoers, the automaker is much more likely to go the smaller route. He also envisions a compact, unibody pickup based on a small CUV bound for America from a Mexican factory, claiming a model like that could attract buyers not interested in larger, midsize pickup offerings. With the Hyundai Santa Cruz on the way and Ford getting into the small truck game, an entry from VW would make sense.

Whatever VW comes up with, it almost certainly won’t arrive soon. Volkswagen of America’s chief operating officer, Johan de Nysschen, unenthusiastically told Motor Trend at last week’s Chicago Auto Show that any such product is at least 5 years out. Even then, he’d prefer to see an EV model based on the company’s MEB electric architecture.

[Image: Volkswagen]

Steph Willems
Steph Willems

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  • Fleuger99 Fleuger99 on Feb 11, 2020

    I think VW is will regret this strong push to go all out EV. I don't think by enlarge the majority of people are ready to go EV. I know I have no plans to buy an EV in the next ten plus years. Technology is still not in a position to produce a product that can replace the current combustion engine from a practical usage perspective. de Nysschen is also killing any decent VW products for North America. Instead they serve a shitty North American only Passat which has been cost cut to the point it isn't even a VW anymore. The same has happened with the ugly 'new' Jetta for North America. What happened to the company that produced exciting and fun to drive vehicles?

    • See 3 previous
    • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Feb 14, 2020

      @sgeffe, I agree. The interior in the current Passat and Jetta are definitely lacking compared to my current '17 Golf or my 04' Jetta wagon. Granted, I've not had my current car or the 04 long enough to see how they age, but I bought the 04 used at 3 years old and 35k and my Golf is 2.5 years old. The undeniable goodness of the Golf seems lost on the Jetta and Passat. On a recent trip to the VW dealer for state inspection/emissions, I sat in an Arteon and it was much closer to having the VW feel of my Golf.

  • Gearhead77 Gearhead77 on Feb 14, 2020

    If VW were to bring a small truck sized like the Subaru Baja (the later one, not the early 80's one) I'd trade in my Golf tomorrow. I don't need a truck, but having a small car with a truck bed to haul around bikes or pick-up mulch or other things would be great. Our lease on our Sienna is up soon and we'll likely get an Odyssey, but I really wish VW would bring a van that fits in a garage to the US again. I don't like crossovers in general, but an Atlas based van couldn't be that hard to make could it?

  • Golden2husky Have to say he did an excellent job on the C7, especially considering the limited budget he was given. I am very happy with my purchase.
  • Marty The problem isn't range; it's lack of electricity in multi-unit building parking. All you need is level 1 - a standard 120v wall socket - and if you're plugged in 10 hours overnight you get 280 miles per week or more. That's enough for most folks but you can use public charging to supplement when needed. Installing conduit circuits and outlets is simple and cheap; no charge stations needed.
  • 2manyvettes Tadge was at the Corvette Corral at the Rolex 24 hour sports car race at the end of January 2023. During the Q&A after his remarks someone stood up and told him "I will never buy an electric Corvette." His response? "I will never sell you an electric Corvette." Take that Fwiw.
  • Socrates77 They're pinching pennies for the investors like always, greed has turned GM into a joke of an old corporate American greed.
  • Analoggrotto looking at this takes me right back to the year when “CD-ROM” first entered public lexicon