The 2000 VW Advanced Activity Concept.
Photo: VW

Now that it has the strong-selling Tiguan and Atlas crossovers, and with the diesel unpleasantness winding down, Volkswagen seems convinced it has the best shot at succeeding in the American market since the Beetle had an engine in the back. But there’s one critical area where VW has zero presence: pickup trucks. Apparently, that may start to change this week.

Sources told Automotive News that VW is set to bring a pickup truck concept to the New York Auto Show this week. While the automaker declined to comment, it seems feasible and in line with VW’s new, more regional product focus.

According to the report, this concept won’t be a hardcore body-on-frame truck like the Ford F-150, but a unibody truck based on VW’s MQB modular platform, an idea not unlike the Honda Ridgeline. Essentially, this would be an Atlas in truck form.

That’s not a bad thing, however—we’ve already proven the Ridgeline’s capability time and time again in our own testing, and it’s actually selling quite well at the moment.

Advertisement

If approved, this truck would become pretty much the Ridgeline’s only real direct unibody truck competition, but it’d be entering one of the toughest markets in the U.S. In addition to stalwarts from Ford, Chevy and Dodge, it’d also have to fight for sales against the Toyota Tacoma, which always does well.

From AN’s story:

Ending chronic financial losses in the U.S. is a key part of Volkswagen brand CEO Herbert Diess’ 2025 plan to turn around a unit struggling with low profitability and still marred by fallout from widespread diesel emissions violations. Last year, the VW brand paid out 13.8 billion euros ($17.05 billion) to settle fines, claims and other costs relating to the emissions scandal.

If the pickup concept receives positive reviews during the New York show, it could go into production relatively soon and would be built at VW’s Tennessee assembly plant, sources said. No German brand offers a pickup in the U.S. and Mercedes-Benz has decided for now not to sell a production version of the midsize X-Class in the U.S. because of cost and image concerns, among other reasons.

“Diess has supported it from a very early phase in the project,” one VW official, who declined to be named because the plans are not yet public, said about the planned pickup.

Advertisement

VW sells the Amarok small truck in other markets, but it’s never come to the U.S., much to our dismay. But VW has flirted with trucks in other ways, like the Advanced Activity Concept from 2000, pictured above. That truck had a twin-turbo V10 TDI diesel engine.

I think it’s safe to say this one won’t.