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Australia to influence next-gen Volkswagen Amarok

Take a seat: With Australia currently the number-one export market for the Amarok, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia has a seat at the development table for the next-generation model.

Second-generation Volkswagen Amarok to benefit from Australian input due to sales

Volkswagen logo27 Sep 2018

VOLKSWAGEN Commercial Vehicles Australia will play a significant role in the development of the second-generation Amarok due early next decade, with Australia established last year as the number-one export market for the light-commercial vehicle.

 

Speaking to GoAuto this week at the Amarok TDI580 Ultimate national media launch, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia director Carlos Santos said that the Australian market punches above its weight in terms of Amarok sales.

 

“We shouldn’t be (that high),” he said. “They should be much more successful with it in Brazil, for example, but the Brazil economy is in dire trouble.

 

“Argentina’s where they build domestically, so that’s a bigger market than us. About triple or quadruple our size, in terms of volume.

 

“The other big export markets are Germany, the UK, South Africa, New Zealand and us, and we’re the biggest out of them by a significant amount, particularly with V6 (variants).

 

“Brazil were pretty close (to Australia in 2017). They might get us this year, though. I think their economy’s starting to come back. They should be selling more, and they are starting to now.

 

“For us, 10,000 unit (is what) we’re going for this year. That would make us the biggest (export market again), unless Brazil has a massive recovery.”

 

Sales of the Amarok have been consistent in 2018, with 6058 examples sold to the end of August – a 0.1 per cent decrease over the 6066 deliveries made during the same period in 2017. The model last year fell short of breaking the 10,000 barrier for the first time by 718 units.

 

When asked if the significance of the Australian market to the Amarok give it much of say on the next-generation model, Mr Santos indicated Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia has a seat at the development table.

 

“(We have) a huge amount (of influence)” he said. “Actually more than you’d think. We’re heavily involved in everything Amarok. All the workshops, everything like that which goes on in Hanover, we’re consulted on.”

 

While stopping short of revealing what form the Amarok will take next, Mr Santos suggested a couple of upgrades that Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia is lobbying for.

 

“There are lots of things I’d like to see,” he said. “One particular thing would be (second-row) curtain airbags. There’s no doubt I’d love to see that in the next one.

 

“Other than that, maybe some of the tech – that’d be great. Stuff like (advanced driver-assist systems) I would love to see flow into this car. (Volkswagen Group has already) got all the technology.

 

“At the same time, you’ve got to balance it. How much more do we want to charge for the car if it gets that tech?

 

“I’m kind of in a nice spot at the moment. I’d hate to lose any of the performance and driveability, because that’s the reason why we’re going to sell 10,000. They drive and go well.”

 

The Amarok dual-cab line-up currently ranges in price from $38,490 before on-road costs for the TDI420 cab-chassis to $71,990 for the just-released TDI580 Ultimate pick-up.

 

Mr Santos was unsure if Volkswagen Group’s recently announced memorandum of understanding with Ford Motor Company would result in Amaroks and Rangers rolling out of the same factory in Thailand – a move that would help lower the ute’s premium positioning.

 

“One of the difficulties is every ute in the Australian dual-cab segment has a free-trade agreement, whether it comes from Thailand or China, except for us,” he said. “We’re already at a disadvantage in that respect.

 

“So, who knows, but it can only benefit us if it does happen. Its a five per cent import duty (at the moment), but that’s at landed cost. By the time you get to retail, it’s probably closer to seven-to-10 per cent.”

 

When questioned if a full-fat R version of the Amarok might sit above the TDI580 Ultimate in the future, Mr Santos said that the variant was unlikely to be topped, but a style-focused R-Line special edition could join the range.

 

“We’ve talked about that a bit,” he said. “We might strip it back a bit and do some different styling bits and naming and all that sort of stuff.

 

“I think there’s room for that. I mean boosting more power, although the engine’s capable of it, I don’t think that the factory would be interested in doing that. I don’t think it’s necessary either at the moment.”

 

As reported, the TDI580 Ultimate ups the performance ante with its Volkswagen Group-sourced 3.0-litre turbo-diesel V6 that now produces up to 200kW of power via an overboost function, as well as 580Nm of torque.

 

While the unit produces higher outputs in other applications, such as Audi’s 210kW/600Nm A8 50 TDI, Mr Santos is cautious about pushing the Amarok too hard.

 

“The more power you’re putting in, what are you sacrificing elsewhere?,” he said. “Do you keep the torque figure that you need? What other modifications do you need to make to where the sump is if you want to go off-roading?

 

“That’s one of the main differences in the engine: the underside. (Compared) to the family engines.”

 

Mr Santos was also quick to rule out a high-performance petrol engine, such as a turbocharged four- or five-cylinder unit, for the Amarok but left the door open for it down the track.

 

“There’s no hint of a petrol variant in the future,” he said. “Not in this generation.”


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