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VW Amarok, Ford Ranger could share platform: report

‘If the Ford relationship works out well, we would have an Amarok successor’: Diess

6 Nov 2018

VOLKSWAGEN Group’s chief executive officer Herbert Diess has provided the best indication yet that its memorandum of understanding with Ford Motor Company will result in the next-generation Amarok and Ranger mid-size utes sharing the same platform.


Speaking to Automotive News, Mr Diess explained that while the MOU between the two automotive companies was signed in June this year, the wider implications of their mooted partnership are still being discussed.


“There's nothing signed yet with Ford. We are in talks,” he said. “Most of the talks have been centred around our light-duty vehicles — our small-commercial vehicles business in Europe, where we found huge synergies.


“We are both relatively small in size against our peers, so what we're talking about is sharing a few platforms and manufacturing sites there, which makes sense.


“And within the dialogue, we are also touching other options, but this will be the main focus if we come to a conclusion.”


Mr Diess elaborated that the partnership could result in the Amarok and Ranger converging, with their current-generation models having been on the market since 2010 and 2011 respectively.


“If the Ford relationship works out well, we would have an Amarok successor, which would be then appropriate for sales worldwide — potentially as well for the United States,” he said.


The Ranger will soon return to the US market after an eight-year absence, with the success of its recently facelifted model likely to influence the chances of platform-sharing with the Amarok.


Failing this, Mr Diess suggested that Volkswagen’s next ute might have to abandon the Amarok’s body-on-frame construction in favour of a platform it has more experience with.


“The other option is a unibody pick-up, which is something for America, which is probably still a bit risky,” he said.


“On the other hand, you have to see that most of the SUVs have been transitioned in the last 20 years (to unibody construction).


“I think, at some stage in the (mid-size) pickups, the same thing will happen ... I think unibody might make sense.”


Whether or not this potential, financially motivated move resonates with LCV buyers, particularly Australians who prefer the ruggedness afforded by a ladder frame, remains to be seen.


In a timely move, Volkswagen is set reveal a sub-Amarok pick-up overnight, with it to be based on its MQB platform that underpins the monocoque Golf small car and Tiguan mid-size SUV, among others.


The German brand uncovered another MQB-based ute, the large-size Atlas Tonoak, at the New York motor show in March this year, but whether or not it transitions from concept car to production vehicle is yet to be decided.


As reported by GoAuto, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch is keen to reduce the Amarok’s premium cost, which is currently impacted by its sourcing from Argentina and Germany. Platform-sharing with the Ranger could see it instead produced in neighbouring Thailand.


Meanwhile, Mr Diess told Automotive News that Volkswagen Group is open to licensing its modular electric-vehicle platform, MEB, to Ford Motor Company and other car-makers due to the potential synergies involved.


“Today we have hundreds of different drivetrains in our industry, and there's a lot of differentiation in the drivetrain I think this will become less, because the battery cells will become very similar on the basis of the same chemistry inside,” he said.


“It will be more about the economies of scale. Still, the battery pack, for the foreseeable future, will be more expensive than a combustion powertrain, so I think it makes a lot of sense to make more volume and generate economies of scale.”


Volkswagen is preparing to launch its ID family of EVs from late next year, while Ford is working on a Mustang-inspired battery-electric SUV due in 2020.

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