Op/Ed: Volkswagen Wants to Bring an EV Pickup Truck to the U.S., But Is It Already Too Late?

How about a new mini-truck?

2023 vw tarok concept ev pickup truck

CEO of the Volkswagen Group of America – Scott Keogh – recently stated that VW is “actively looking” at bringing an electric pickup truck to market and that it can be a “chance of a lifetime” for the brand to gain a competitive advantage in the U.S. market.

Here is an interview with Business Insider that provides more context and quotes from Scott Keogh.

Indeed, the current pickup truck market in the United States is very much established. It’s exceedingly difficult to break into it and gain any advantage or market share. Companies such as General Motors, Ford, Stellantis, Toyota, and Nissan have spent decades refining their pickup truck offerings for the American market. Volkswagen is familiar with part of the U.S. market as well. The company had much success with the Volkswagen Rabbit minitruck decades ago. Why not do it again?

The market is ready for a compact and efficient pickup truck. Take a look at the recent U.S. sales numbers from the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz. These two combined for nearly 28,000 vehicles sold in Q1 2022.

I believe that Volkswagen should seriously consider entering the compact pickup segment in the United States with an electrified version of the truck. Perhaps, it can be something like the VW Tarok concept truck they showed at the 2019 New York International Auto Show (three years ago). This EV segment is currently untapped. The current Ford Maverick Hybrid is the closest competitor in this space.

The time to bring a small pickup to market is now. If VW decides to bring an EV pickup truck of any kind 3 or 4 years from now, then it may be too late. There may be many other competitors in this space by 2025 or 2026.

Volkswagen is currently partnered with Ford to design and produce the next VW Amarok midsize pickup truck that is based on the next generation of the Ford Ranger platform. Neither Ford nor VW have officially announced a hybrid or an electric version of the Ranger or the Amarok truck at this point.

If Volkswagen goes after the full-size truck segment, this will be a big uphill battle. The 2022 Ford F-150 Lightning truck goes on sale within the next month. The 2022 Rivian R1T is already on sale. The 2024 Chevy Silverado EV is coming along with GMC Sierra EV within the next two years. Tesla promised to sell the Cybertruck in 2023 as well. The full-size pickup truck market is simply too crowded, and it will be difficult for VW to make significant inroads.

Here is a personal walkaround of the VW Tarok mini-truck concept from the 2019 New York Auto Show.