VW is still '100 percent' investigating a pickup truck for the US
But it can't just be a badge-engineered Ford Ranger.
Steven EwingFormer managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
One year after showing the Atlas Tanoak pickup truck concept at the 2018
New York Auto Show
still hasn't made a firm decision about whether or not to bring a production version to market. But according to Volkswagen of America boss Scott Keogh, it's a segment the automaker is very, very keen on entering.
"We think we are now, finally, with our
, a mainstream manufacturer," Keogh told Roadshow during an interview at the Geneva Motor Show this week. "But without a doubt, the biggest open space is pickup. Without a doubt."
The Atlas Tanoak concept used a unibody design, much like the
, and was well received by New York Auto Show attendees last year. Volkswagen is investigating bringing the truck to market like that -- "we have opportunities to do it ourselves," Keogh said.
But a recent partnership with the Ford Motor Company brings other new opportunities, as well. In the initial agreement, Ford agreed to build a version of its European-spec Ranger truck for Volkswagen that will be sold in markets outside the US. Could something similar happen in the US?
"We have opportunities with Ford," Keogh said. "It's something we are 100 percent investigating."
Keogh is mindful about Volkswagen's credibility when entering a new market space, and that's especially important with a segment like pickups in the US. "Does your brand belong there?" Keogh asks. "I don't think it's enough just to have a market opportunity. ... When you get that marriage together, you have a home run, and that's exactly what we're looking at."
In the late 2000s, Volkswagen partnered with
to launch the
, a rebadged version of the Town & Country and
Dodge Grand Caravan
minivans. The van was largely unsuccessful, commanding several thousand dollars more than its Chrysler and Dodge counterparts, and was discontinued after only a couple of years.
In launching a new pickup, Volkswagen does not want to repeat this process, and Keogh says his company will "not just do a badging operation."
"That doesn't work for us," Keogh said. "We have to have credibility and bring something to the table."
Exactly what -- if anything -- will happen remains to be seen, but Keogh is confident that a Volkswagen pickup truck could be a hit in America.
"I think this is an opportunity for Volkswagen, if you look at how we position the brand," he said. "We are capable of entering the pickup market with a car we're proud of."
Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept is a pickup truck tease