Volkswagen’s North American division is open to the idea of returning to the pickup segment with a U.S.-spec version of the Amarok.
The Amarok (pictured) that’s sold in Europe and in dozens of other markets across the globe won’t make the trip across the pond. It wasn’t designed to comply with the U.S. market’s regulations so it can’t be sold as-is, and Volkswagen doesn’t want to spend money on making the truck street-legal in the U.S. because it’s nearing the end of its life cycle. However, we could get the second-generation model that’s expected to debut in a year or two.
Hinrich Woebcken, the head of Volkswagen’s North American arm, told Car & Driver that executives are debating whether to enter the competitive midsize pickup segment before the end of the decade. The model would slot in at the smaller end of the market if it’s approved for production, meaning it would compete against hot sellers like the Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon twins and the Toyota Tacoma. Volkswagen has sold pickups in the United States before — it even built the Rabbit-based Caddy in Pennsylvania from 1979 to 1982 — but it has never competed in the mid-size truck segment.
What’s even more surprising is that the U.S.-spec version of the Amarok might be offered with a turbodiesel engine. While Volkswagen isn’t currently allowed to sell oil-burning engines in the U.S., the company isn’t ready to give up on the technology altogether. Government regulations are pushing automakers towards electrification but diesel continues to make perfect sense in some segments of the market.
Before the Dieselgate affair, about a quarter of diesel-powered cars sold new in North America had a Volkswagen emblem on the grille. The fuel has since gotten a bad name and Woebcken warned that “diesel will not come back in the same magnitude.” The diesel engine will return “package by package” if executives decide to move forward with the project.