Hmm…could the Volkswagen Amarok finally head to the U.S. after all?
A few years ago, we never even dreamed that the Volkswagen Amarok pickup — a popular rival against the global Toyota Hilux, Ford Ranger, Isuzu D-Max and Nissan Navara — would ever be offered in the United States. Why? It mainly comes down to the “chicken tax” law, a piece of legislation aimed at encouraging domestic production and sales by effectively pricing foreign trucks out of the market. It’s a situation that means all trucks on sale in the U.S. are actually produced in North America, from the Big Three (naturally) to Toyota, Nissan and Honda’s pickups. The situation may soon change for Volkswagen, according to a trademark filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
On May 13, 2021, the automaker moved to trademark the “Amarok”. The trademark application for goods and services includes, “motorized land vehicles, motors and engines for land vehicles…”, and virtually everything else comprising the actual truck. Now, we’ve seen plenty of trademark documents that haven’t come to fruition yet. Stellantis’ “Dakota” trademark is a stellar example, though in Volkswagen’s case this could be the real deal, for a few different reasons.
The midsize truck market is hotter than ever, for one. Right now, the Toyota Tacoma dominates the market, with models like the Jeep Gladiator, Ford Ranger, Chevy Colorado/GMC Canyon and Nissan Frontier vying to chip away at those sales with their own rivals. This much competition signals the demand, especially as the appetite for capable off-roaders continues to intensify. Secondly, the recent partnership between Volkswagen and Ford could provide a vector for the German automaker to actually bring the Amarok into the U.S. market — without having to pay the hefty chicken tax.
Ranger and Amarok, side by side?
Part of that deal includes co-development of new Ford-branded electric models based on the “MEB” modular architecture. As we reported back in March, the two automakers will also share a platform and technology between the next-gen Ranger and the Amarok. It’s not a huge leap to imagine Ford could build both trucks at its Wayne, Michigan plant, and Volkswagen would then avoid the import tariff.
This is still mainly conjecture, but the new trademark application does lend credence to that theory. In time, we could see both the Ranger and Amarok on sale here in the U.S., though we’ll likely see VW’s own turbocharged gas engines (likely a 2.0-liter shared with the Atlas crossover), rather than one of Ford’s engines. Either way, word has it Volkswagen will use a 10-speed automatic transmission as part of that technology sharing agreement.
Since the new Ford Ranger is due out within the next year or so, it’s possible Volkswagen could stage their own reveal in that timeframe.