Volkswagen has provided us with our best look yet at the redesigned Amarok mid-size pickup truck due in 2022.
Some readers will recall that VW's Volkswagen Group parent in 2019 said it was working on a handful of joint projects with Ford, including platforms, production facilities, and self-driving technology.
VW last June confirmed that one of the joint projects would be a redesigned Amarok based on the same T6 body-on-frame platform as the next Ford Ranger due out later this year, and on Thursday the automaker's commercial vehicles division provided a revealing teaser of the design. The teaser hints at a somewhat aggressive look for the new pickup. It also suggests VW will stick with the crew cab design of the current Amarok launched in 2010.
2022 Ford Ranger spy shots - Photo credit: S. Baldauf/SB-Medien
Ford will build the Amarok for VW at a plant in South Africa, with the pickup so far only confirmed for the South American, European and African markets, though both Ford and VW have left the door open to it possibly being sold in the United States. That would mean the Amarok would need to be built in the U.S. to avoid the 25% Chicken Tax on imported trucks, which is a possible outcome considering the next Ranger will be built at the same plant in Michigan where the current Ranger is built. It would make sense for the Amarok and Ranger to share a production line in the U.S., too, should a local launch be approved.
A trademark filing for the Amarok name with the United States Patent and Trademark Office discovered in 2018 suggests that VW is at least looking at the possibility. Another, less likely alternative is VW building a separate pickup at its plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. The automaker hinted at the possibility with 2018's Atlas Tanoak concept which was based on the same unibody platform as the Atlas SUV already in production in Chattanooga. The last VW pickup sold in the U.S. was the small Rabbit which bowed out in 1984.
VW will also build a new commercial vehicle for Ford, in this case a small van based on the Caddy. The small van will likely replace the current Transit Connect in Ford's lineup.
2019 Volkswagen Amarok
VW Group will also license to Ford the MEB modular electric-vehicle platform. Ford will use the platform for one or more EVs to be sold in Europe, the first of which is due in 2023. Ford estimates it may need as many as 600,000 units of the MEB over a 5-6 year period.
Finally, in the area of self-driving technology, VW Group has made an investment in Argo AI so that it and Ford now have equal stakes in the self-driving technology startup. The goal is to develop a safe, robust and reliable self-driving system that Ford and VW can use in mass-produced vehicles to be deployed in fleets offering rides, delivering goods, and potentially other services, specifically in dense, urban centers.
The first of these for VW Group will appear in 2025, likely in a very limited service. The vehicles will have Level 4 self-driving capabilty. Level 4 means a car can operate without a driver in select conditions, such as being restricted to areas where there is sufficient map data, known as geo-fencing.