The head of Volkswagen Group Australia refuses to rule out the possibility that the next-generation versions of the Amarok and Ford Ranger bakkies could share a platform.
Speaking to GoAuto.com, Michael Bartsch, who holds the role of CEO at VW Group Australia and recently took aim at the Mercedes-Benz for apparently failing to differentiate the X-Class from the Nissan Navara on which it is based, said that “all options are being looked at”.
“All avenues are being explored. I think it would be disingenuous of me to say there is nothing going on with Ford, otherwise Ford wouldn’t be making the comments that they are making, but I am not in a position at the moment to say what it may or may not be,” Bartsch said, referring to June’s announcement that VW and the Blue Oval brand were “exploring” a strategic alliance that could include the co-development of commercial vehicles.
“What I think is very clear is, in order to be competitive in Australia, we have to get the cost base of [the Amarok] down. It’s being produced in Argentina and Germany and both of those are high-cost markets for a product that is in the most competitive environment that you can be in.
“Argentina is a problem because of the instability of the currency and Germany is a high-cost source. If we don’t have a trade agreement with the EU [European Union] that gives a price point that allows us to go head-to-head competitively in the market here, where most of the products we are dealing with are coming out of Thailand and Japan and so on, then we’re always going to be at a competitive disadvantage.
“We’re never going to go head-to-head with the Koreans and Japanese from a pricing point of view, but you always have to ensure that the premium [is within the right context],” he told the Australian publication.
Bartsch went on to heap praise on the Ranger.
“I think Ford has done a marvellous job with the Ranger. It’s been extremely well positioned, it resonates with the market; Ford has a wonderful legacy of producing solid commercial vehicles – the F-Series is still the top-selling vehicle in the world – they have very solid credentials. And I think the [Ranger] Raptor is a good product, and I say that as a stand-alone statement,” he said.
GoAuto.com speculated that any platform sharing between the Amarok and Ranger was unlikely to take place before 2025.