Volkswagen giving the small unibody truck segment a hard pass.
For a while there, it seemed like Volkswagen would introduce a competitor in the new small lifestyle unibody truck segment.
It makes perfect business sense, considering that there's a massive audience out there who'd like the practicality of a pickup, but without going the whole nine yards. If you're not going to be hauling cargo on a gravel surface daily, why live with the inherent flaws of a ladder-frame chassis and leaf springs. Hardcore truck owners disagree with that statement, but Ford's new Maverick is proof that there is demand. Ford recently opened the reservation books for the Maverick, and 36,000 units were reserved in the first week alone. Hyundai's Santa Cruz probably won't be as popular, but we wouldn't be surprised if it ended up being one of the South Korean manufacturer's best-selling models.
In 2019 Volkswagen introduced the Tarok concept, which looked like a prime competitor to the pickup trucks mentioned above. It was a unibody platform based on the VW Group's MQB architecture, which meant it could basically use any engine from the VW range. The development cost didn't seem that high, and given the estimated popularity of these models, it made financial sense.
Unfortunately, it's not meant to be. In a recent interview with Automotive News, the executive vice president for sales and marketing for VW in the USA ruled it out. Duncan Movassaghi stated that VW's main aim is to keep its ICE car competitive while offering more EV options. In short, investing in a niche segment isn't viable.
Movassaghi had some good news, however. He mentioned that an EV compact pickup truck is a possible option.
This statement is quite telling, as Volkswagen has an upcoming model that possibly perfectly fits the mold. It's no secret that Ford and VW teamed up to create the next-generation Ranger and Amarok.
Volkswagen never offered the Amarok in the USA, as the infamous chicken tax made it impossible to import and sell it at a competitive price. But now there's a possibility the Amarok will be produced alongside the Ranger in Michigan, which removes that niggly tax issue. We know VW trademarked the Amarok name as recently as May 2021.
Ford is rumored to be working on a Ranger-based electric truck. If this is indeed the case, an Amarok EV is highly likely.
Given that Volkswagen and Ford are sharing the costs, VW might introduce entry-level Amarok models at the same price as the Maverick. If we look at Ford's current pricing structure, the Ranger line-up picks up where the Maverick range ends, so the idea is not that far-fetched.
We hope this is true if only to remove the Amarok from our list of trucks we can't have because of the chicken tax.