VW’s Next-Gen Amarok Raises Questions about U.S. Market

After being dormant for years, the midsize pickup market is enjoying a resurgence in the U.S.

The revival of the midsize pickup market in the U.S. could be the key to VW getting into the segment.

Not so long ago, many manufacturers gave up on this market segment, but the players that remained were proven right when sales started to increase.

Though Ford retired the Ranger compact pickup in the U.S., this nameplate remained on sale — as a midsize pickup — in regions like Latin America, Australia and other places. In fact, a completely new generation Ranger was introduced there in 2015 in Latin America, after the Ranger had been long discontinued in the States.

Soon Ford realized that the midsize pickup in America was recovering and by the end of 2018 the Ranger returned to the U.S. market, though to make this possible the new generation introduced in 2015 in Latin America had to be refined extensively.

VW pickups

Ford revealed last November the next generation of its Ranger and this model has a most interesting twist: it will underpin the second-generation Volkswagen Amarok.

The second-generation VW Amarok is underpinned by the new Ford Ranger.

The midsize VW pickup hit the market in 2010 and even though it was sold in Mexico, it never reached the U.S. market.

The next-gen Amarok features an exterior and interior design different enough to set it apart from the Ford Ranger and as a VW product. It has a payload capacity of up to 1.28 tons (2,800 pounds) while towing capacity is up to 7,700 pounds.

VW power

As for engines, it offers one gasoline and several diesel options. The gasoline engine is a 2.3-liter turbo with 298 horsepower. If this description sounds familiar it´s because it´s the EcoBoost by Ford.

The next-gen Amarok features an exterior and interior design different enough to set it apart from the Ford Ranger.

The diesel options consist of three versions of the 2.0-liter 4-cylinder putting out 147 hp, 167 hp and 200 hp, respective as well as a 3.0-liter V-6 producing 246 hp. 

The Amarok will offer up to 20 Automated Driver Assistance Systems and an available digital cluster with an 8-inch screen and a 12-inch touchscreen for its infotainment system.

The second-generation Amarok at least initially will be produced solely at Ford’s plant in South Africa and the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company revealed it will be sold in South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, The Middle East and yes, it will continue the tradition of being sold in Mexico as well. 

Coming to the U.S.?

Now, VW has been flirting with the idea of a pickup for the U.S. for a long time. In the 2000 edition of the NAIAS this brand showed the AAC Off Road Study Concept.

The Amarok will offer an available digital cluster with an 8-inch screen and a 12-inch touchscreen for its infotainment system.

So, the notion of VW not offering the new Amarok in the U.S. is baffling, to say the least, because the Wolfsburg-based automotive conglomerate is definitely missing out on the action of a really profitable segment in one of the two largest automotive markets in the world.

VW could ask Ford to arrange its Michigan Assembly Plant to produce the Amarok alongside the Ranger. There has been some speculation that it could make its arrival in the U.S. as an all-electric pickup as well. 

Not a new practice

This would not be the first time that a brand that doesn’t produce pickups gets one from another manufacturer. This practice is called an OEM agreement.

Mitsubishi had its Raider pickup based on the Dodge Dakota, Suzuki had the Equator based on the Nissan Frontier and Mazda had its B2000 based on, oh surprise, the Ford Ranger compact.

So, offering the Ford Ranger based VW Amarok pickup in the States would not be strange at all and it would be an effective way to boost VW´s fortunes in the market.