Earlier this year, Volkswagen showed off an Atlas-based pickup truck concept called the Tanoak. At the time, the German automaker said it was only interested in gauging public interest, not announcing plans to sell a pickup truck in the U.S. Whether American customers would consider a Volkswagen with a bed remains to be seen, but the odds of a VW-branded truck for this market may have gotten better thanks to a recent partnership.
Diess said the decision will ultimately have to be made by Scott Keogh, the former Audi of America boss and new head of Volkswagen North America. But he also added that VW’s new partnership with Ford makes greenlighting a pickup more likely.
“If the Ford relationship works out well, we would have an Amarok successor, which would be then appropriate for sales worldwide—potentially as well for the United States. The other option is a unibody pickup, which is something for America, which is probably still a bit risky,” said Diess.
For the last several months, we’ve heard rumors that Ford and Volkswagen planned to form a strategic partnership that involved building the next-gen Amarok on a Ranger platform. That partnership is now officially moving forward, although Ford has made it clear that a merger is off the table. For now, the relationship will only involve commercial vehicles and the possibility of future collaboration.
But even with Ford’s help, breaking into the U.S. truck market will be a challenge for Volkswagen. As Diess put it in the interview, “Pickup is a very American segment.”