It’s no secret that the American market for pickup trucks is highly patriotic, one dominated by the Big Three of Ford, General Motors and Fiat-Chrysler (parent company of Dodge, Jeep and Ram).
That’s why it’s surprising to learn that Volkswagen is considering launching its own pickup truck for the US market, specifically a production version of the Atlas Tanoak concept.
Revealed last April at the New York Auto Show, the Tanoak is an Americanized version of VW’s Atlas SUV. While it carries the same 276hp 3.6L V6, the flatbed has a ruggedized frame, redesigned cockpit, a sturdier 8-speed automatic transmission and 4Motion AWD system.
At the time, the German automaker claimed to have no plans of putting the Tanoak into production. However, a recent interview with the company’s top executive for North America appeared to show that VW might not only produce the Tanoak, but make its first foray into the US pickup truck market.
In a recent report by Autocar, VW’s CEO for North America Hinrick Woebcken indicated the company was open to new designs that cater to American consumers. “It (the Tanoak) fits the brand well, because we want to get more American in the US.” However, Woebcken acknowledged that the US pickup market will be a tough nut to crack. “It’s something we have to look at very carefully. It’s a very patriotic segment, which American manufacturers dominate.”
There’s plenty of good reason for VW to join the midsize pickup segment. Thanks to a resurgent market, Ford is resurrecting the Ranger after a six-year hiatus, to compete with GM’s Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon. Even foreign brands are getting in on the demand — apart from the Honda Ridgeline, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier, Americans will soon be getting the Hyundai Santa Cruz in a couple of years.
All of which puts the Tanoak in good company… if and when VW decides to join the party.