Electric VW truck (Amarok electric): Everything we know

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 Wolfsberg, 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 gas-powered Amarok.

There’s no official confirmation of the project, but VW could aim to grab a share of the vast segment in North America with an electric VW truck. As per a report from Motor Intelligence, trucks accounted for 79.1 percent of sales for the whole U.S. auto industry in Q1 2022, up from 77.1 percent from the same period in 2021. This is a segment VW of North America does not currently participate in.

Unlikely to use the MEB platform

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 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 the brands: Ford can benefit from VW Group’s large pool of electrification resources, while VW can learn from Ford’s mastery in manufacturing trucks.

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. VWN board member Krause told Drive that VW took the lead in design while Ford accepted other responsibilities. Drive also reports that the switchgear and dashboard layout would be shared with the Ranger, yet the trucks will offer a unique feel.

The Amarok gets an upright fascia with horizontal grille slats—likely to be blanked off on the electric VW truck. Expect VW to offer LED headlamps as standard and optional IQ.Light – LED matrix headlights. At the rear, the new Amarok model gets a wide tailgate and vertical LED taillamps. VW says that customers will see bold Amarok lettering on the tailgate. Expect the Amarok Electric to offer reasonable cargo bed space, with enough width to fit euro pallets sideways. The EV might come with aero-optimized alloy wheels as well.

The electric VW truck’s interior would be at least as modern as the cabin of the ID. Buzz, if not more. Moreover, since the electric VW truck would be a conversion BEV, like the Hyundai Kona Electric, expect the cabin layout to be identical to the gas-powered version. Expect an 8-inch digital cockpit and tablet-style 10.1- or 12-inch infotainment screen with plenty of off-road-specific information and graphics for the driver. However, don’t expect the electric VW truck to offer a MIB operation system on its screens. Instead, the petrol Amarok would use Ford’s latest Sync 4A system, according to Drive. The same is likely to feature on the EV.

Moreover, VW says that gas-powered Amarok would get a premium sound system, premium decorative stitching, and optional 10-way power adjustment for front seats—all of which might make their way to the electric VW truck.

Electric VW truck specifications

There are no concrete details about the VW Amarok electric’s powertrain. However, Volkswagen should exceed the capabilities of the MEB-platform-based VW ID. Buzz. Exact specifications of the U.S.-spec VW ID. Buzz has not been revealed yet, but the European model offers 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.

2023 VW Amarok side profile teaser
VW has taken an efficient approach for the new Amarok by partnering with Ford rather than pouring millions into a costly development process. Image: VW

VW America’s CEO is upbeat about an Electric VW truck

The company’s CEO may be noncommittal, but its North American executive has not hidden the enthusiasm for a potential electric truck. In an interview with Business Insider on April 16, 2022, VW Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said an electric VW pickup truck was a model the company was “actively looking at” and that it would be a “chance of a lifetime” to introduce such a model in the current EV transition era.

On the VW Tarok Concept truck

The closest VW of North America has come to the truck segment is in the presentation of concept vehicles. In March 2018, at the New York Auto Show, the VW Atlas Tanoak concept was revealed, which, despite being well-received, was acknowledged by VW’s Vice President of Product Marketing and Strategy, Hein Schafer, as not being capable as a body-on-frame truck and still needing considerable investments.

VW Atlas Tanoak Concept
VW quickly dismissed the Atlas Tanoak concept requiring significant investments and not being competitive with ladder-frame rivals. Image – VW

In 2019, VW presented the Tarok concept, a smaller truck (comparable to the Ford Maverick) catering to the lifestyle buyer. This was subsequently also written off for the American market, citing its niche segment with low priority. In 2021, the then VW of North America’s executive VP for sales and marketing, Duncan Movassaghi, stated that the brand would focus on expanding its electric lineup and keep ICE vehicles competitive than enter a low volume segment with the Tarok.

Likely to be made in the United States

What we know for sure is that the electric VW truck for the U.S. would be made in North America to avoid the chicken tax (a 25 percent tariff on light trucks imported to the USA in retaliation to the EU’s tariffs on American chicken imports, effected in 1964 by president Lyndon Johnson). Even though it is very early to speculate, it’s possible that the Amarok and Ranger electric models could be manufactured at Ford’s mother plant in Michigan, says the Autocar report.

Gasoline and diesel versions of the new Ranger and Amarok will be initially manufactured at Ford’s Silverton facility in South Africa and additionally at the Michigan assembly plant by 2023 (U.S.-spec Ranger). Manufacturing the platform sharing electric and gas-powered models under one roof would ensure cost rationalization for both the brands and maximize the business case for the electric trucks.

VW’s ID.4 and upcoming EVs for the U.S. will be manufactured at the Chattanooga facility. However, these would be MEB platform-based cars, while the electric VW truck would share its underpinnings with the Ranger. It’s not clear whether VW would modify the Chattanooga facility for Amarok Electric’s assembly or use Ford’s resources in North America.

Featured Image: VW