VW is considering a plug-in hybrid pickup truck for America

Volkswagen is considering a pickup truck for the U.S. market that would likely be a plug-in hybrid, the brand’s North American boss said Tuesday in an interview with Motor Authority.

President and CEO of VW Group of America Pablo di Si said the possible pickup could have a hybrid or plug-in hybrid powertrain, but that it would definitely be one or the other.

“It’s not strategically wise to go into multiple directions for hybrids,” Di Si said. That seemingly contrasts the strategies of other automakers like Toyota and Hyundai/Kia, which currently sell multiple models with both hybrid and plug-in hybrid powertrain options.

Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept

Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak concept

VW’s U.S.-market pickup would reportedly leverage current platforms in the automaker’s portfolio, and would likely have unibody construction, likely using the bones of the VW Atlas crossover SUV.

The Atlas served as the basis for the VW Tanoak pickup concept shown at the 2018 New York Auto Show. At the time, VW executives said the Tanoak was merely to gauge consumer interested, and was not intended for production.

If the pickup is assembled alongside the Atlas at VW’s Chattanooga, Tennessee, factory (which also builds the ID.4 EV), it could also come part way to meeting requirements for the federal EV tax credit under the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). The new rules specify local assembly and sourcing of battery minerals for qualifying vehicles.

Timing is unclear. The Atlas was introduced for the 2018 model year, was refreshed for 2021, and is due for another update for 2024. A redesign could be years away.

2022 Volkswagen Amarok

2022 Volkswagen Amarok

A plug-in hybrid pickup would be a return to form of sorts. Back in 2015, prior to VW’s decision to double down on its MEB platform and focus on EVs rather than hybrids, VW was one of the only automakers aiming to put fast-charging in its plug-in hybrids.

VW has been considering a U.S.-market pickup for some time, and electrification has often been part of the discussion. The automaker currently sells small pickups in several markets, but in 2020 then-COO Johan de Nysschen said any such truck for the U.S. would have to be all-electric. Later that year, VW Group of America then-CEO Scott Keogh said that an electric pickup would be “the chance of a lifetime” for VW and was being seriously considered.

In 2022, VW Group of America’s parent company instead decided to activate Scout as an electric truck brand—to the complete surprise of U.S. dealers, who will apparently now still be without the fully electric pickup they almost had.

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