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VW takes another shot at compact pickup market

Christoph Rauwald
Bloomberg News

Volkswagen AG plans a renewed push into the lucrative pickup segment that’s eluded the German manufacturer for years.

The compact Tarok, shown Tuesday in Sao Paulo, “will soon” be offered in Brazil, the company said in a statement. The truck “has the potential to boost Volkswagen’s model range in other global markets,” it said without providing details.

The world’s biggest carmaker has struggled to break through in the pickup category while rivals from General Motors Co. to Toyota Motor Corp. have raked in profits. VW has made progress in sport utility vehicles, another area where it lagged behind, but its truck lineup has been restricted to the low-volume Amarok, introduced in 2010. The vehicle, which is mainly sold in South America and Europe, is smaller than Ford Motor Co.’s best-selling F-150.

VW’s ambitions could get a boost from broad collaboration talks with Ford that range from commercial vehicles to autonomous driving, electric cars and potentially more. Imported pickups are subject to a 25 percent tax in the U.S., the biggest market for the vehicles, making it unrealistic to sell trucks in the market unless they’re made in North America.

VW Chief Executive Officer Herbert Diess recently told Automotive News that the collaboration talks might provide access to technology from the Ranger, a compact pickup being revived by Ford for the North American market. Working with Ford would reduce development costs for the Tarok, which at 5 meters long would be slightly shorter than the Ranger. Diess also said he sees potential for the Tanoak concept, a pickup version of VW’s mid-sized Atlas SUV.

Besides the Ranger, other smaller pickups include the Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon, Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier. VW’s German rival Daimler AG entered the pickup segment in recent years with the premium X-Class.

The Tarok will be sold with a 2.0-liter engine that delivers 150 horsepower. VW didn’t provide details on the planned price.