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Volkswagen of America boss says a pickup is not a priority

Returning to North America’s pickup segment after a decades-long hiatus isn’t a priority for Volkswagen, according to a recent report. Some of the company’s top executives said they’re aware dealers want a truck, but their main focus is launching more crossovers and SUVs.

Volkswagen will soon plant its stake in the truck segment via the newly-created Scout brand, which aims to put a modern and electric spin on the International Harvester Scout sold from the 1960s to the 1980s. The range will initially include an SUV and a pickup designed with a focus on off-roading and built on a new platform. Sharing this platform with the Volkswagen brand isn’t planned, executives said.

“At the moment, our focus on the lineup doesn’t include it. We have a clear lineup all the way through the second half of this decade. Then again, in the American market, if you don’t play in certain segments then you have to stay in a certain market share area. But the question of [the new “Rugged SUV” platform] is not our priority at the moment,” Volkswagen brand boss Thomas Schäfer told Automotive News.

Pablo Di Si, the head of Volkswagen’s North American division, echoed these comments.

“What are the relevant segments in the U.S.? SUVs and pickups. Are we going to have a pickup? I will try. Do we have one now? No. Right now, my focus is on strengthening the SUV portfolio. I will address pickups at the right time, but right now I have other issues to tackle.”

Volkswagen has experimented with several different types of trucks in recent years. It unveiled a concept called Atlas Tanoak (pictured) in 2018 that shared its basic unibody platform with the Atlas SUV. If launched, the pickup would have competed directly against the Honda Ridgeline. Volkswagen hinted it was considering turning the design study into a production model but ultimately canned the project. Fast-forward to 2019 and a second pickup concept called Tarok made its debut at the New York Auto Show to “gauge market reaction.” It was built on a unibody platform as well. While the city-friendly truck may still reach production in South America, nothing suggests we’ll see it here.

Time will tell whether Volkswagen once again sells a pickup in the United States — it hasn’t offered one since the Pennsylvania-built Rabbit Pickup (also known as the Caddy) retired in 1983. It’s a different story across the pond: The second-generation Amarok made its debut earlier in 2022 with Ford Ranger-sourced bones, a more car-like interior, and an available 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged diesel engine.

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