Volkswagen of America CEO Scott Keogh did little to temper rumors about a compact pickup truck from the German brand, following the Tarok concept's arrival at the 2019 New York Auto Show. Calling the Tarok “a trial balloon,” Keogh laid out a number of reasons the company could jump into the truck game while speaking to Motor1.com at a media roundtable on Wednesday.
Calling the truck market “probably the biggest white space in our portfolio right now,” Keogh pointed out the burgeoning price of trucks as a motivator for Volkswagen to get into the game, but at a much lower price than the big, bruising half-tons from major truck makers.
“I do see an opportunity where these trucks have all moved into the $50,000s and the $60,000s and beyond,” Keogh said. “And that is the price of an expensive luxury car. I think there’s an opportunity and I think [Volkswagen] can come in with an extremely smart price point.”
Prefacing that he didn’t want to give away price points, Keogh then did just that, saying “I think you could put a vehicle like that in the marketplace in the mid-$20,000, with proper engine, proper everything.”
Gallery: Volkswagen Tarok Concept
There are two avenues available to the company right now to do that. Volkswagen’s widely publicized partnership with Ford Motor Company will certainly result in a VW product that rides on the Ranger’s bones, Keogh reiterated. But that vehicle is destined for South America, with Keogh saying the company would “continue to look” for the U.S. The bigger issue with that approach is differentiation.
“If in this market there's a Ranger Ranger and VW Ranger, there's no reason for that. You have to have a different point of view and a differentiation.” Keogh added that it’s not VW’s style to do a badge-engineering job, with one journalist jokingly asking if that was a lesson learned from the ill-fated Routan minivan. Keogh, chuckling, declined to comment.
The other avenue is the one presented by the Tarok, which rides on the Volkswagen Group’s ubiquitous MQB platform. That approach would give the brand a lot more flexibility in terms of packaging and powertrains, with Keogh saying “We'd be capable of putting a whole assortment of engines into [an MQB truck]. We could get upwards of 250 or 300 horsepower if we wanted to do it.”
It’s still too early, even after Keogh’s comments, to suggest that a Volkswagen truck is a certainty. Keogh rightly says the German automaker still needs to figure out what the brand would want its truck to do before it can move forward.
“When you enter any segment, you want to have your brand's point of view in that segment, and not just mimic what's already there,” Keogh said. “So, we obviously are trying to come up with our point of view.”
If VW's showing of the Tarok in New York is anything to go by, though, we’d say it looks like the company is far closer to figuring out that point of view than any of us thought.