Full-size pickups continue to rule the sales roost in North America, and there frankly hasn't been much action in the small and midsize segment to generate new interest. Ford finally put its Ranger out to pasture, the Ram Dakota is gone and a Chevrolet Colorado/GMC Canyon replacement has a ways to go before it hits the market. The category's remaining imports – Toyota Tacoma, Nissan Frontier and Honda Ridgeline – aren't exactly fresh, and the long-promised Mahindra model hasn't exactly worked out. But surely there still has to be a market for a smaller, fully modern pickup, right?
Apparently Volkswagen thinks there might be. Autoblog has learned that VW is seriously investigating selling its handsome Amarok pickup in Canada. According to Thomas Tetzlaff, Media Relations Manager at VW of Canada, the German automaker is "presently in the 'evaluation stage,' where we are pouring over data with a fine-toothed comb. Bottom line? We are very interested, but are proceeding very slowly and very cautiously."
"Bottom line? We are very interested, but are proceeding very slowly and very cautiously."
Thanks to a number of tipsters, Autoblog has discovered that VWoC is actively discussing the Amarok with its dealer body, which in turn has been gauging customer interest in the truck. Tetzlaff confirms: "Yes, we have had discussions with our dealers and they have given us some very positive feedback. The challenge is to justify the project 'on our own'." Past history suggests that VW's Canadian arm is up to the challenge – as recently as 2009, VWoC offered the Golf and Jetta City models without an equivalent U.S. model.
Tetzlaff would not confirm which cab styles and powertrain options are under consideration, but he did say, "The powertrain solution would certainly give Canadian buyers a real alternative in the light pickup market." This suggests that VW is considering importing a TDI diesel model. At present, VW builds the Amarok with one of three diesel powertrains in Argentina, offering 138-177 horsepower and 250-310 pound-feet of torque. The Amarok is assembled in both single and double-cab configurations with either rear- or four-wheel drive and is sold in South America, Europe, Russia, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.
This suggests that VW is considering importing a TDI diesel model.
While sounding optimistic about the Amarok's chances, Tetzlaff cautioned, "Our desire to bring such a product to market needs to be balanced with a strong business case. The costs we would need to incur in order to import the vehicle need to be factored into the equation and they are not insubstantial... the project is nowhere near a 'green light' just yet."
And what about here in the States? VW spokesman Mark Gillies: "VW of America has absolutely no plans to sell the current version of the Amarok in the U.S."