By on February 11, 2020

Image: VW

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]

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9 Comments on “Mulling Pickups, Volkswagen Thinks Smaller… and Long-term...”

  • avatar

    Interesting that “failure” and “Johan de Nysschen” show up in the same article. Isn’t there a vacant showroom in SoHo available?

  • avatar

    So they might do something but probably not but maybe somewhere else. Or not.

  • avatar

    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?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m full-on ready to buy an EV.

      The problem is getting them in the right sizes, shapes, and price points for the mission I have for each vehicle in my driveway.

      A Model X fits one of my needs, but it’s too expensive, and the Model Y isn’t available yet. The Cybertruck fits one of my other needs, but it won’t be available for another 2 years.

      I had a terrible experience with the last VW I owned, but I’m willing to give them another try with their new tech stack — if they make an EV at the right size/shape/price.

    • 0 avatar

      Sat in a Passat at the auto show over the weekend — wasn’t impressed. Same with the Jetta — it doesn’t have that “something special” inside like the MkIV Golf/Jetta and B5 Passat did.

      • 0 avatar

        That allows you customize in just one trip to PepBoys.

      • 0 avatar

        @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.

  • avatar

    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?

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