Volkswagen's US CEO explains why he thinks America is ready for a small pickup truck again

VolkswagenThe Volkswagen Tarok.
  • The Volkswagen Tarok concept pickup truck made its North American debut on Wednesday at the 2019 New York International Auto Show.
  • The Tarok is a compact, car-based pickup truck and is unlike anything currently available in the US market.
  • Compact pickups that were once on sale in the US like the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado have grown to become midsize trucks.
  • Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh thinks there is an untapped market potential for compact pickups aimed at those who live in an urban environment.
  • Visit BusinessInsider.com for more stories.

The Volkswagen Tarok concept pickup truck made it North American debut on Wednesday at the 2019 New York International Auto Show.

The Tarok is a near-production-ready concept that was first introduced at the Sao Paulo Auto Show late last year. The production version is set to go on sale in South America in the near future.

But Volkswagen’s ambitions for the pickup concept go beyond South America. VW thinks America may be ready for a truck like the Tarok.

Read more: 17 hot cars we can’t wait to see at the 2019 New York Auto Show.

The Tarok is a compact, car-based pickup truck and is unlike anything currently on the US market. Volkswagen Group of America CEO Scott Keogh said there’s some untapped market potential to be had.

“What we think is intriguing here is since many people still live in normal urban environments, we like packaging driveability, fuel economy, and everydayness of an everyday urban environment,” Keogh told reporters at the New York Auto Show.

Volkswagen Tarok Concept Large 9699Volkswagen

According to the VW boss, a vehicle like the Tarok is perfect for the rigors of daily urban life, from handling baby seats to parking in tight spaces, but also capable when it comes time to explore trails on the weekend.

Keogh also noted that it’s a misconception to think that only people who live in rural Montana enjoy exploring the outdoors.

Full-size pickup trucks currently account for roughly one-fifth total US auto sales, midsize pickup trucks are also growing in popularity. As a result, it may also be time to explore potential demand for compact trucks, something has been available to US consumers for the better part of a decade.

“Now somebody could make an argument and say there is no (compact) pick up in the marketplace, therefore there is no market,” Keogh said. “But of course, if all you do is look at where spaces already exist you don’t do anything new. You don’t bring innovation, You don’t bring change.”

Volkswagen Tarok Concept Large 9695Volkswagen

He also noted that the popular midsize pickups of today such as the Toyota Tacoma, Ford Ranger, and Chevrolet Colorado have grown in size and were smaller compact pickups in the not so distant past.

“I think the opportunity is pressing itself a little more now because pickup trucks have become a little more mainstream, so they are not viewed upon just for their work efforts.”

Power for the Tarok comes from a 147 horsepower 1.4-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, which is shared with the US market Jetta. However, Keogh said the platform can easily handle upwards of 300 horsepower, so a US production version will likely have a much more powerful engine.

Volkswagen Tarok Concept Large 9692Volkswagen

The four-door concept is 193.5 inches long with a 47.5-inch-long cargo bed. The bed is extended by 27.4 inches when the tailgate is open. According to Keogh, with the rear seats folded, the Tarok’s bed size can be extended to match those of midsize trucks.

Inside, the Tarok comes with a relatively standard VW-group interior, complete with the company’s Digital Cockpit instrument cluster and a 9.2-inch infotainment screen.

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