Ford has already confirmed a plug-in hybrid Ranger is coming, and now Volkswagen has confirmed it’s considering a pure-electric version of the related Amarok.
“We’re looking at a pure-electric version,” Lars Krause, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicle board member responsible for marketing, told Autocar.
“It’s still early, but it’s something we’re considering within the lifecycle.”
The Amarok’s body-on-frame architecture can accommodate an electric drivetrain and battery pack, according to Mr Krause.
“We think it’s possible. Obviously, we’d need to modify certain elements. But yes, we’re seriously considering an electric variant,” said Mr Krause.
Autocar reports the Amarok EV could launch by 2025.
The next-generation Volkswagen Amarok, due here early in 2023, shares its underpinnings with the redesigned Ford Ranger.
Mr Krause seemed less than enthusiastic about a plug-in hybrid Amarok despite the brand selling a wide range of plug-in hybrid models in Europe.
“Right now, we’re not satisfied with the electric range of the plug-in hybrid. I’d never say never, but we’re looking more towards a full electric version,” Mr Krause told Autocar.
Ford Europe effectively confirmed last year it’d launch a plug-in hybrid Ranger by 2024, with the company saying it aims for its commercial vehicle range to be “zero-emission capable” by that year.
Subsequently, Ford’s T6 chief platform engineer Ian Foston has confirmed the Ranger has been engineered for electrification.
“Platform lifecycle is anything up to 10 to 12 years. We said, well, clearly electrification is going to be something which we have to consider going forward,” Mr Foston said.
“So we made sure the platform was capable of it. And we engineered electrification into it, to make sure that all the different propulsion technologies would be able to fit within the platform going forward.”
Much of the design and engineering for the second-generation Volkswagen ute was handled in Australia, led by Ford’s Victorian R&D team.
However, Volkswagen had its team working parallel to, and with, the program.
Autocar suggests an electric Amarok and Ranger – the latter a more affordable, compact alternative to the F-150 Lightning – could be produced in the US.
Combustion-powered Ranger and Amarok production will begin in Ford’s Silverton, South Africa plant, though the Ranger will soon also be produced at a plant in Wayne, Michigan.
The remarks from a European Volkswagen executive about the possibility of an electric Volkswagen ute follow remarks from the company’s North American boss about such a vehicle’s potential.
Earlier this month, Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh told Business Insider he sees a great opportunity to enter the electric pickup truck market.
“I think it’s the chance of a lifetime in this segment because electrification gives you a reset moment. It gives you a chance to bring some, let’s say, alternatives and some new ideas into this great segment,” said Mr Keogh.
“It’s something we’re actively looking at, but nothing to actually report now.”
Volkswagen has never sold the Amarok in the US, and indeed it hasn’t sold any ute since the first-generation Golf-based Rabbit Pickup from 1978 to 1984. South of the border, Volkswagen Mexico sells its spiritual successor, the Saveiro.
Keogh believes the entrenched brand loyalty of full-sized pickup buyers to the likes of Chevrolet, Ford, GMC and Ram may not apply in the nascent electric pickup market, where Keogh says everyone faces the same challenges in scaling up production.
That therefore helps level the playing field and makes it easier for Volkswagen to enter with an electric pickup, according to Keogh, as opposed to trying to introduce a petrol-powered Ford F-Series rival.
“I think a buyer would historically say, ‘I buy F-150, I buy Ram, I buy Silverado.’ Now they might be saying, ‘I’m going to buy an electric one,’” he said.
“That reset moment gives a competitive chance to come in, whether it’s Rivian or whether it’s us.”
With the exception of a couple of Chinese trucks like the Nissan Navara-based Dongfeng Rich 6 EV and the LDV eT60, most electric pickups have been on the larger end of the spectrum.
These include the aforementioned F-150 Lightning, as well as the Rivian R1T, GMC Hummer EV and upcoming Chevrolet Silverado EV and Ram 1500 BEV.