UPDATE 11/5/18: Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess said it’s possible a VW pickup could be a joint Ford/VW product, perhaps even based on the next-generation Ford Ranger. In an interview with Automotive News, Diess lent credence to ongoing rumors, saying: “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.” He mentioned that the company is also considering a unibody pickup truck like the Atlas Tanoak concept from earlier this year, saying it’s “probably still a bit risky” but acknowledging that it “might make sense.”
Australian website GoAuto is reporting, based on an interview with a local Volkswagen executive, that the next-generation Amarok pickup truck could be related to the next-generation Ford Ranger pickup truck. The story was soon picked up by Automobile, where we saw it (because we don’t often peruse Australian news). Cue head-shaking surprise! Could it be that Ford would team up with VW to develop a new mid-size truck? Maybe.
In his interview with GoAuto, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch touched on a recently announced commercial-vehicle joint venture between the German automaker and Ford, leaving open the possibility that the connection could bear fruit beyond work vehicles. Of course, justification along the lines of lowered development costs, complex global-supply-chain matters, and tariffs were dangled as hints that a VW/Ford mid-size-pickup mashup could be in the works after each automaker updates its trucks for 2020.
Missing in the report, however, is a tidbit we learned from Ford earlier this year: that it aims to embrace local partnerships with different automakers to develop commercial vehicles that aren’t needed in its global lineup. Ford already has shacked up with Mahindra in India for a project, so why not expand its partnership with Volkswagen to include a co-developed mid-size pickup for the Australian, American, and European markets? Considering the lower profit margins small pickups return compared to full-sizers-the F-series brand, remember, could be a Fortune 500 company on its own-it wouldn’t be ludicrous for automakers to share the costs on components such as frames and engines while customizing bodies and interiors to suit their individual brands. Nissan and Mercedes-Benz already cooperate on a pickup. Consider, too, that Ford likely wouldn’t even need to compete with VW here on American soil (where the Amarok isn’t sold), while overseas, the Volkswagen and Ford products are known quantities with existing customer bases. Anything can happen, so this looks like something to keep an eye on in the coming years.
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