Volkswagen is weighing the possibility of building a compact pickup for sale in the U.S.
The German automaker plans to show a pickup concept called the Tarok at the New York Auto Show later this week.
The plans, revealed Monday morning, come after the Tarok made its debut at the Sao Paulo International Motor Show in Brazil in late 2018.
Volkswagen revealed a larger pickup concept called the VW Atlas Tanoak at the New York show in 2018.
The pivot toward the compact body style suggests that VW may be zeroing in on a real-life opportunity to jump into the intensely competitive market for U.S. pickup buyers.
“Although there are no plans to produce the vehicle for the U.S. market, the Tarok concept is being shown to gauge market reaction for a truly versatile and compact entry-level pickup,” VW said in a statement.
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The two-row Tarok concept is 193.5 inches long with a 73.2-inch bed that extends into the cab. It’s 72 inches wide and 66 inches high. The wheelbase is 117.7 inches. It has a 1.4-liter, 147-horsepower, 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and all-wheel drive.
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“The key to the Tarok concept’s versatility is a variable load area,” VW said. “The floor space can be enlarged not only by opening the tailgate, but also using a newly developed mechanism for folding down the bottom of the passenger cabin’s rear panel.”
Compact pickups qualify as a segment that essentially disappeared in the U.S. earlier this century. The Chevy S-10, for example, is still made for sale in Brazil but was discontinued in the U.S. about a decade and a half ago.
Yet the explosion of sales of midsize pickups, such as the Toyota Tacoma, Chevrolet Colorado and the new-to-the-market Ford Ranger and Jeep Gladiator, suggests that America’s thirst for pickups has not been quenched.
VW, which sells the Amarok pickup in other markets, recently negotiated a partnership with Ford to make a midsize pickup for sale in Africa, South America and Europe. That deal did not specify a path to making pickups for the U.S., but analysts have speculated that it’s a possible next step.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Nathan Bomey on Twitter @NathanBomey.
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