A high-ranking Volkswagen executive in the United States says the Wolfsburg-based firm’s deal with Ford for the latter to develop a successor to the Amarok bakkie is “still a little bit hazy”.
Hein Schafer, a South African who holds the position of senior vice-president for product strategy at VW of America, made the comments to WardsAuto.
“It’s still a little bit hazy, to be quite honest. We’ve kind of signed probably what could be classified as some sort of a joint agreement to say, ‘Hey, let’s partner up; let’s share ideas’. What will come of it is, at the moment, still not 100 percent certain,” Schafer told the publication.
Back in January 2019, the two firms announced the first “formal agreements in a broad alliance” that would include the US brand engineering and building "medium-sized" bakkies "for both companies”.
By the end of March 2019, Volkswagen confirmed it had signed a contract with Ford for the Blue Oval brand to develop a successor to the Amarok bakkie. But Schafer, who earlier worked in various departments at VW South Africa and headed up product marketing in South America, suggested it wasn’t quite that simple.
“There is some sort of opportunity that maybe a pick-up collaboration could happen – that is something that’s still in the cards,” he said.
Schafer went on to make the point Ford likely wouldn’t appreciate a new rival for its Ranger in the US.
“You've got to think about it realistically. We would have to build a vehicle on a Ford platform that would have to look totally different to the Ford, so it’s a complex project. And also, obviously, Ford [would] have to remain competitive in the market. They’re not going to throw, like, an olive branch at us and give us their Ranger or whatever else. It’s super-competitive,” he explained.
Interestingly, Schafer added VW was not interested in joining the full-size bakkie segment in North America.
“F-150 competitor? I don’t think for Volkswagen it will ever really work. F-150 has that segment sewn up so tight. And for us to try and produce a pickup – even if we match the F-150 in every single aspect – trying to conquest an F-150 customer would be stupid.”