We already know that Volkswagen will be rolling out its five-seat version of the Atlas SUV in New York later this week. Persistent rumours have floated the prospect of another significant reveal at the event, this one of a bold new prototype.
The smart money is now betting on a new pickup, one that will take direct aim at the Honda Ridgeline. The new vehicle will, according to reports, borrow the Atlas’ architecture, the Volkswagen Group’s famed MQB modular platform, and a monoshell approach. The unnamed concept will not then be derived from VW’s existing, quite similar-looking Amarok, sold elsewhere in the world; that model is built on a ladder frame.
According to Automoive News magazine, the project has the support of several of the automaker’s top brass, including head man Herbert Diess, who see the truck as an essential tool to compete and grow in the North American market. However, no green light has yet been given to move the vehicle to production. Reaction to the concept by visitors and automotive press at the New York show may play a part in pushing the needle one or the other.
There’s little doubt that Volkswagen needs a vehicle of this kind in its American portfolio. Consumers have grown increasingly fond of this type of offering, and if VW wants to keep up with its competitors, it will have to offer more of these models to consumers. Last year, 23% of the automaker’s sales were generated from the various light-duty truck segments; the industry average, meanwhile, is 63%, according to Automotive News.
If the concept is warmly received and given the go-ahead, a move to production could happen fairly quickly. It’s expected that it would be assembled at Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
A light-duty truck designed for Americans and assembled in the United States: this might be just what Volkswagen needs to finally win back the hearts and minds of consumers in the New World.