Update: ‘Why the Amarok Electric launch won’t be lightning-fast’ sub-section added to ‘Release date.’
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles (VWN) is seriously considering an electric version of the second-generation Amarok truck, stated Lars Krause, VWN board member, during a media briefing in Wolfsburg, Germany, according to an Autocar report dated April 25, 2022. Krause gave away some essential details about the VW Amarok electric during the announcement of the second-generation combustion-powered Amarok.
There’s no official confirmation of the project, but VWN could aim to grab a share of the vast segment globally with an electric VW truck. Here’s our preview of the VW Amarok Electric.
Repurposed platform & body
The development of the electric VW truck could be a continuation of Volkswagen and Ford’s current ‘Global Alliance’ partnership, under which the brands have developed the second-generation VW Amarok and the fourth-generation Ford Ranger. Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles seems confident about using a modified version of the gas-powered Amarok platform for its electric iteration. The Amarok and the Ranger are based on Ford’s updated T6 platform, developed by the American carmaker for its rear-wheel-drive and four-wheel-drive mid-size trucks and SUVs.
This is a clear example of the challenges faced with internal combustion-engined trucks, where costly R&D is required for a single product. The chassis/technology is often not shared among other models (in the case of Ford, the Ranger forms the basis for the Everest SUV, which is sold in Asia and Oceania, helping the company spread costs). The Alliance would benefit both brands: Ford can benefit from VW Group’s large pool of electrification resources, while VWN can leverage Ford’s mastery in manufacturing trucks and the economies of scale it provides.
Design & Interior
The Ford Ranger and the VW Amarok have been crafted by designers and engineers at Volkswagen’s main engineering center in Wolfsburg, Germany, and Ford’s Australian design and engineering center in Victoria. In early 2022, Krause told Drive that VWN took the lead in design while Ford accepted other responsibilities.
The VW Amarok Electric could feature a slightly softer exterior design compared to the donor model. It may have a concealed area instead of the wide upper radiator grille with crossbars. The IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights could feature a rather emotional design on the electric model.
On the sides, almost entirely covered, aerodynamic 21-inch alloy wheels could make the battery-powered Amarok immediately recognizable. VWN may launch the EV exclusively with a four-door double cab. At the rear, VWN could use a narrow light strip to connect the tail lights for unique, technical styling.
The interior of the Amarok Electric should carry the same design as the 2023 Amarok for the most part. Expect a 12.0-inch Digital Cockpit, a 12.0-inch touchscreen in a tablet format, a 10-way electrically adjustable driver’s seats, a wireless smartphone charger, Harman Kardon audio system, and many more premium features. Where the cabin could differ slightly is with the usage of new sustainable and cruelty-free materials with recycled content. The color scheme may also be different (warmer) in the Amarok Electric.
On the safety front, VWN could throw in a raft of advanced driver assistance systems and parking aids, including ACC+ Adaptive Cruise Control with Intelligent Speed Assist (incl. road sign recognition), Lane Assist, Traffic Jam Assist, Area View (360-degree camera), and Park Assist.
VW Amarok electric specifications (expected)
There are no concrete details about the VW Amarok electric’s powertrain. However, Volkswagen should offer better capabilities than the MEB-based VW ID. Buzz. The European model features a 77 kWh (net) battery that feeds a rear-axle-mounted electric motor. The electric motor produces 201 hp and 229 lb-ft, and the battery supports up to 170 kW DC fast charging. Expect the VW Amarok electric with a much higher torque figure, a bigger battery that gives it at least 250 miles of range, and a higher DC charging output.
The second-generation VW Amarok has a 6.8-inch longer wheelbase compared to its predecessor, taking the wheelbase length to 128.7 inches. This has reduced the overhangs and, in the future, might help Volkswagen accommodate a sizeable battery between the axles of the electric VW truck.
Payload vs. Towing
Due to the limitations and cost of battery technology, the eAmarok is unlikely to match the diesel-powered ute in every department. There might be a trade-off between payload capacity and towing capacity. VWN is likely to give the requirements of customers in Australia precedence, and may put a higher priority on payload than towing.
“We’d like to see the payload as close to the current (Amarok) as possible,” Ryan Davies, the director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles Australia told Wheels, the local publication reported on December 17, 2022. So, expect the EV’s payload capacity to fall between 1,100 and 1,200 kg (2,425 and 2,646 lbs.). Further, Davies indicated that the towing capacity will be between 2.5 and 3 tons (5,512 and 6,614 lbs.).
According to a report CarsGuide published on December 14, 2022, the VW Amarok Electric project is no longer just under consideration. Citing Davies, the report said an eAmarok is “in development.” Ford’s decision for the Ranger has left the German automaker with two electrified powertrain options on the table: plug-in hybrid electric and pure-electric. It’s the latter in which the company is “most interested,” but hasn’t confirmed the model (for production), Davies said. He suggested that the Amarok EV could arrive as early as 2026.
Why the Amarok Electric launch won’t be lightning-fast
Launching the VW Amarok Electric any earlier would make little sense, as the battery technology, the charging infrastructure, and thus also the consumer demand in its main markets wouldn’t be in its favor. Peter Sulc, Global Product Manager, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, talked about these challenges with CarExpert in December 2022.
Sulc thinks there’s still time for electric workhorse pickups like Amarok Electric to become viable. His experience driving the VW ID. 4 has provided Sulc an insight into how batteries in EVs perform under different weather conditions, the Australian report noted.
Poor winter performance of batteries is a stumbling block for widescale adoption of vehicles such as the Amarok Electric, Sulc said. He also mentioned that present-day charging infrastructure and battery technology aren’t ready to support a fleet of electric pickups on a practical scale. As an example, he illustrated Germany’s infrastructure is better than that of the United Kingdom.
There’s also the case of nonfunctioning chargers, which Sulc said further adds to the woes facing electrified pickups today. While the European Union is working on doubling or even tripling the charging infrastructure, that’s not expected to come into effect before 2027, Sulc told the Australian publication. The rising cost of batteries, technology limitations & unimpressive resale values are also factors, the Australian publication highlighted. With present battery technology, mass production of EVs such as the Amarok Electric won’t be feasible for most buyers looking for a workhorse pickup truck, Sulc stated.
The VW Amarok electric pickup could be the toughest VW-branded EV until the arrival of the Scout truck in 2026. While it won’t be as innovative or efficient as modern EVs developed by the Volkswagen Group, it will be highly off-road capable and practical, and help keep the nameplate alive and kicking in markets that are phasing out combustion vehicles.
Featured Image: TopElectricSUV’s rendering of the VW eAmarok