VW not ready to jump into unibody pickup race — yet

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Over two successive springs and with two successive CEOs, Volkswagen a few years ago showed its dealers and loyalists concept unibody pickups that teased a possible reentry into a segment where it has long been absent.

But as competitors begin to roll out their own small lifestyle pickups, such as the Ford Maverick and Hyundai Santa Cruz, it appears a glaring white space in VW’s U.S. lineup — and perhaps its best hope of hitting its long-term market share aspirations — will remain unfilled, at least for now.

Duncan Movassaghi, executive vice president for sales and marketing for the VW brand in North America, says following others into the gasoline-powered small pickup space is no longer an option. But he did leave the door open a crack for a potential future electric vehicle with a bed.

“Our priority within the Volkswagen brand is to keep our existing [internal combustion engine-based] vehicles competitive” and to expand the battery- electric vehicle lineup, Movassaghi told Automotive News. “Investing at this time into a niche ICE [compact pickup] segment would not make sense for us. As we transform our lineup to BEV, an electric pickup could for sure be an option.”

VW dealers have long sought a pickup, a desire brand leaders in Virginia have been wrestling with for several years. Outside the U.S., the Amarok has been a proven player among compact pickups for a generation while being the only body-on-frame light-duty vehicle in the massive global brand’s whole portfolio. The next-generation Amarok will be based on the Ford Ranger — part of the automakers’ ongoing collaboration — but will remain forbidden fruit in North America.

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