It was as much as confirmed by Volkswagen Australia MD, Michael Bartsch, and Mark Fowler, Volkswagen Director of Passenger and Commercial Vehicle Aftersales.
“There is some very serious development happening at the moment for an SUV based on Amarok, which would be quite a large passenger vehicle. It is not confirmed, but has been going on since the start of Amarok, and (Volkswagen has) just started to beef up discussion again,” Mr Bartsch said.
The key is the V6 Amarok, and the North American market.
We had asked if Volkswagen Australia looked wistfully at Prado’s Australian sales figures, and suggested that, with a V6 Amarok, Volkswagen now had the drivetrain and the bones to make a full-size, heavy duty 4X4.
“I think the comment to make to that is that there is a lot of research being done in America at the moment, as you can imagine, and Volkswagen knows it has a challenge in the SUV segment,” Mark Fowler said.
“We’ve talked about the SUV model range expanding. Certainly in America, they’re looking at larger ones, like in a Q7-sized vehicle.
“So I think your observation is one we’ve made,” he said.
The V6 engine coming with the Amarok, in particular having an engine that can be successfully sold in the US market, is central to this, Mr Bartsch conceded.
“The 2.0 litre would never (make it) into the States, but the V6 is the engine; it’s known from Cayenne, Q7 and Touareg, and it’s a well-proven engine and currently sold in the US.
“If that happened, the volume, the minimal mass to justify the investment is a done deal,” Mr Bartsch said.
Certainly, in Australia, with a large SUV segment dominated by Prado, Landcruiser 200, Everest, Fortuner, Pajero Sport, and other ‘low-range’ 4X4 contenders, Volkswagen is adrift of a major part of the market here and doesn’t really have a contender in the Touareg.
It is something Volkswagen Australia MD Michael Bartsch concedes. “We don’t have breadth and depth in the SUV segment,” he said.
For Volkswagen here, the new Tiguan can’t come quickly enough. While in passenger car sales Volkswagen sits at fifth overall, include SUVs in those numbers, and it drops to 18th.