In what seems to be another step in Volkswagen's progress toward understanding American tastes, Automotive News reports that we may see a pickup truck concept for the first time this week at the New York International Auto Show.
This mid-sized truck would reportedly be based on the Atlas platform, like the five-passenger Atlas already confirmed to be revealed in New York. It would be built alongside the five and seven-passenger versions of the Atlas in VW's Chattanooga, Tennessee factory. This would not only allow for easy part-sharing with its platform-mates but also bypass the 25 percent "Chicken Tax" on imported trucks by building them in the U.S.
The Atlas-based pickup is not to be confused with the Amarok, a pickup truck that VW has sold elsewhere in the world for years. While the Amarok is a traditional body-on-frame pickup, this new one would be of a unibody design, similar to the Honda Ridgeline, and the classic Rabbit Pickup built here in the early 1980s.
A pickup by Volkswagen would add to an increasing variety of mid-size pickups available in the U.S. It would join the existing offerings from Chevrolet, GMC, Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, as well as the upcoming Ford Ranger. Since Mercedes decided not to bring us the X-Class, the VW would be the sole German offering in America.
It's unlikely that the niche popularity of Smyth Performance ute kits for older unibody Volkswagens had anything to do with its thought process on possibly building a modern version of one. However, the Atlas is an excellent platform, and the conversion process from an SUV to a pickup truck is definitely feasible, as the Honda Pilot-based Ridgeline has shown. We look forward to seeing what, if anything, VW has to offer.