A little while back, Volkswagen teased us with the mud-terrain-ready Tarok pickup concept. Shortly thereafter, the company's COO dropped a large bucket of cold water on VW building a production version in the next few years. But now, there may be a glimmer of hope that a VW pickup could arrive Stateside: CarBuzz found that VW just filed a trademark application for "Amarok" in the United States. The Amarok is, of course, the pickup truck that Volkswagen sells in non-American markets.
Could VW bring the Amarok to the United States?
You could make a case that VW should bring the Amarok to America. Volkswagen has been transitioning its American lineup away from hatchbacks and wagons toward cars that Americans still buy; in recent years, the company has come out with the three-row Atlas, made the Tiguan larger and more upscale and launched the subcompact Taos crossover. And what is the one vehicle Americans love more than crossovers? Trucks.
And theoretically, at least, it should be easier to get the second-generation Amarok to America if VW was so inclined. Designing it to meet American standards from the get-go would be easier than retrofitting a truck that didn't. Besides, the Amarok will also use Ford's new Ranger platform, which means Ford could even build it for VW in America, like it will be globally, to avoid the chicken tax on foreign trucks.
Why VW might not bring the Amarok to the United States
Of course, there's a compelling case for VW not to bring the Amarok to the U.S. as well. Crossover buyers aren't brand-loyal, which leaves room for upstarts like the Kia Telluride. But truck buyers may be the most brand-loyal customers in the industry — and the Toyota Tacoma has an ironclad grip on the midsize truck segment. Even impressive efforts from Ford, Chevy and Jeep have not been able to prise away market share. (Plus, we suspect Ford had some sort of stipulation in the Ranger platform contract that VW could not just turn up with the Amarok and start cranking out direct competition for FoMoCo's pickup.)
There may be room down-market for VW to come out with an affordable, active-lifestyle, segment-straddling crossover truck on the MEB platform along the lines of the Hyundai Santa Cruz. But the Amarok is very much a full-fledged truck. And more of an upscale and fancy one at that.
It's possible VW could do a Passat-type thing, where "Amarok" means something completely different in North America and Europe. However, if VW were coming out with a take on the Baja, it would seem simpler to name it something different, like the Tarok. Or, of course, the recent trademark filing could always be routine diligence on VW's part to prevent someone else building an Amarok pickup.