The intermingling of different manufacturing companies to share platforms to beat the high costs of developing new vehicles keeps increasing. Volkswagen and Ford have tied up on a number of future products. One that Ford has dominated and Volkswagen has never had much luck with is the pickup truck segment. The 2022 VW Amarok will be based on the next Ranger. Which one will be better? Here’s what we know.
VW has said publicly it wants to be able to have customers differentiate between the next Ranger and Amarok. Michael Bartsch, VW Group Australia managing director even told Motoring he didn’t want VW to “make the same mistake” Mercedes and Nissan made. Mercedes’ X-Class pickup was a veiled version of Nissan’s midsize Navara. The closest the US has to the Navara is the Frontier pickup.
Badge engineering is a double-edged sword
Badge engineering is a double-edged sword. It saves development costs but rarely are buyers confused. They know what they are looking at and so it always comes down to personal choices or possibly proximity to one or the other dealer. VW is looking to have a greater difference to compel buyers to pick it over the Ranger.
We don’t know if VW has plans to market the Amarok in the US, but it seems likely if it is putting that much investment to separate it from the Ranger. What is known is that the Amarok will use Ford’s 2.0-liter twin-turbo four-cylinder engine and also its new V6. But VW is also working on a 300 hp four-cylinder diesel engine. With VW’s bad diesel reputation in the US and elsewhere we would be surprised if a diesel-powered Amarok was sold in the US.
The best way for VW to differentiate the two midsize pickups is with sheet metal and interiors. For manufacturers, interiors are the easiest and cheapest ways to manufacture a difference. But the most obvious to buyers is with the sheet metal styling. That costs much more. Would VW go to that expense?
If VW looked to invest in body tooling, change the front and rear-quarter sheet metal
What would be optimum if VW were looking to invest in body tooling would be to change the front and rear-quarter sheet metal. The cab, its structure, and inside of the bed could stay the way Ford is producing the Ranger. But with differences in the fenders, hood, grille, and tailgate, it would be a different-looking truck.
Going the route that GM does with the GMC and Silverado pickups would be less desirable. For as many of these pickups as GM sells it has always been a mystery why it doesn’t change up the sheet metal between the two a bit more? Amortizing those changes over that many trucks produced would definitely differentiate the two.
The lead image will give you a taste of what VW has in mind for the Amarok. We haven’t seen anything from Ford, as is usual. We’ll have to wait until 2021 to see if VW is successful in its goal to keep the Ranger and Amarok distinctly different.