Volkswagen wants a slice of that pickup pie in the United States but the pickup demographic is just to darn patriotic for VW to make its way in.
When the VW Atlas Tanoak took the stage at the New York Auto Show back in March, we rode a roller coaster of emotions because, “Yah! New pickup” but learned shortly after that no concrete production plans are in the works. But now, according to AutoCar UK in a little snippet published earlier today (Aug. 8, 2018) into the mindset behind WHY VW isn’t building the Tanoak pick-up VW’s head honcho here on our shores says the pickup segment is, “very patriotic.”
Hinrich Woebcken, VW’s US boss, said: “It fits the brand well, because we want to get more American in the US, but it’s something we have to look at carefully. It’s a very patriotic segment, which American manufacturers dominate.”
It takes a lot to scare Volkswagen into submission. For one thing, Volkswagen is literally the global sales leader in terms of sheer volume of vehicles sold, surpassing Toyota. Surprising that in the decades-long history that VW has been in America, they, along with number two global sales leader Toyota, haven’t come close to upending the F-150, Ram, and Silverado as sales leaders. Even with the Tundra on the market, according to Trucks.com, they’ve only managed to get a paltry 4.9 percent of the full-size pickup market share. They, however, dominate the mid-size pickup truck market, hands down thanks to Tacoma.
Looking at the tale of the tape of the VW Atlas Tanoak, I can tell you right off the bat this would fall flat on its face. According to VW, the Tanoak makes an, at best, 276 HP and 266 lb-ft which it uses to muster up a 5,000 total towing capacity thanks to its MQB platform. Read, “it’s not a real truck by ‘Murican definition.” The base 3.3 V6 in the Ford F-150, thanks to its truck architecture, can tow up to 7,700 pounds without breaking as much as a sweat. Slap in the Ecoboost V6 and its sayonara VW with a bench breaking 13,200 towing capacity.
My point is, if you’re going up against the big guns, you’d better bring some hefty tow ratings. Americans won’t tow as much as a canoe on any given Sunday but we like to imagine we can tow a Sherman tank, just because we can.
Honda did its best with the Ridgeline, but they’re happy with just a couple thousand sales a month. I don’t think the number one global sales leader would be happy with that result.
If you can’t bring that engine and tow performance to compete with arguably a step down in truck quality, you’d better stay in Germany, Tanoak.