Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Can't Touch This #2

I present you the VW Amarok, a Toyota Tacoma sized pickup—ideal for the US market—but not sold here.

And that’s a shame.

VW isn’t sure there is a business case for the Amarok in the USA. They aren’t sure a pickup is the “right” move.

You have to forgive Wolfsburg because HQ isn’t aware of the F150, Ram, Silverado, Sierra, Tundra, and Tacoma that sell quite nicely.

You also have to forgive VW for the unique name.

They like odd names.

The Touareg was named after thugs in Gaddafi’s regime in Libya.

Tiguan was derived from tiger + iguana.

Taigun—the name of a coming small crossover—was derived by misspelling Tiguan.

By all accounts, Passat is the sound a tire makes when it’s losing air.

But I digress.

At least the Amarok is named after a gray wolf.

By all accounts, the Amarok is a stout, sturdy, competent truck.

Spoiler alert: VW’s reputation for reliability in the USA is spotty. Their durability certainly is not Toyota good. Parts for repairing a VW will cost you Mercedes-Benz prices.

That said…

Volkswagen has the goal of selling 800K units a year in the USA by 2018. They are well below half that at the moment, but it’s products like the Amarok that could generate sales for them.

Yet it’s not sold here.

Let’s talk the business case. VW says there isn’t one for a non-full-sized pickup.

The Toyota TACOma certainly has a business case and does quite well in the market with sales north of 160K units in the USA and Canada.

The Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon twins for GM have only been on sale a few months, but assuming their steady sales continue, they will do over 100K units in a partial sales year.

Even the dreadful and woefully outdated Nissan Frontier sells about 80K units a year and that’s with a mediocre product.

By all accounts, the Amarok has everything it needs to battle the Tacoma, Colorado, and Canyon except for one thing: price.

Ignoring the “chicken” tax for a moment, some estimates say a base Amarok would cost $52K before the chicken tax.


The chicken tax is a steep tariff on foreign-produced trucks.

So VW has a competent vehicle that was not designed to be price relevant.

How utterly stupid!

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