Volkswagen North America has reportedly not given up on the prospect of a small half-ton pick-up aimed at the incoming Ford Maverick.
This comes after Wolfsburg’s President for South America, Pablo Di Si, told motor1.com Brazil last month that the division could be scrapping the Tarok before production even starts due to the impact of the Coronavirus that has taken its toll on Brazil where manufacturing was due to take place.
“With the pandemic and our cash flow, we will have to re-evaluate all investments, 100% of them. I’m not talking about cancelling [projects], but some will be delayed,” Di Si said, adding that it “will have to be very careful with our cash position this year and the next two to three years”.
In an interview with Autoline though, Volkswagen Group of America CEO, Scott Keogh, despite not mentioning the Tarok by name, hinted that while brand’s hopes of taking on the segment dominating Ford F-150, Ram and Chevrolet Silverado are virtually non-existent, two other areas of interest remain that could potentially count in the Tarok’s favour.
“For us to go into a brutally competitive segment and say ‘here comes Volkswagen, frankly, is not going to work. The question is, where can we differentiate and for me there is two places; either we pursue it a little bit smaller and come in with more of an A-size type of vehicle or we do it with electrification,” Keogh said.
“I think you see Ford is discussing this, Hyundai is obviously doing one as well. It’s something worth looking at, but we are really looking into smaller, fuel economy fun. If you look at what Volkswagen did with the Rabbit/Golf, with the Jetta, those segments really drained, it got significantly smaller. Could we bring that back to life with a pick-up/lifestyle vehicle? I think we could and we will look at those opportunities”.
Asked about possible production in the States compared to the Puebla Plant in Mexico, Keogh stated that the existence of a smaller platform across the border would be beneficial from a cost standpoint, as modification or even an entirely new platform would have to be approved if the pick-up entered production at the Chattanooga Plant in Tennessee where manufacturing of the Jetta, Passat, Atlas and Atlas Cross Sport takes place.
“That smaller platform sits already in Puebla so while the costs basis is a bit better in Puebla, but of course the USMC (United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement free-trade agreement) basis is a bit better in Chattanooga, but we will run the math as we go,” he said.
In concept guise, the Tarok made use of the same MQB A0 architecture as the Polo, which underpins the Tharu SUV made in said Mexican plant, as well as the T-Cross and Nivus that are both offered in Brazil. With the Tharu planned for the US towards the end of next year positioned below the Tiguan, it could very well provide the foundation for the Tarok that was rumoured to replace the dated Brazilian made Saveiro. Based on the mentioned comments by Di Sa though, even if the project is moved to Mexico, its chances of materialising won’t be cut-and-shut just yet.