So I have been meaning to go and have a closer look at one of these trucks for a while, but since I am not in a huge rush and since I still really want an Amarok, I’ve been putting it off.
I have seen a couple of articles over on Jalopnik that I found interesting.
The first article was posted a few days ago and indicated that Canadian demand was high enough that currently there are approximately 400 orders that can’t be produced as 2015MY vehicles and that they will be delivered as 2016MY, but at 2015MY prices. The delay for these have also gone beyond 12 weeks. If I was one of those 400, I would be calling my dealership and asking for the diesel in my as yet unbuilt and undelivered 201?MY truck.
The second article was part of news roundup published today, it indicated that demand for the truck is so high that GM has modified the schedule to avoid a six minute lull in production between shift, so this translates to an extra 18 minutes a day for the three shifts and this in turn translates to an extra 3500 trucks a year.
Given this information, I have to say, VW there is demand, bring us the Amarok.
I got an email from a reader who included some photos of an Amarok that were taken in the Halifax area with manufacturer plates. The pictures were retrieved from Facebook, they had been posted in the NSVW group. The pictures show what looks to be a Mexican license plate, in the comments of the photo there was someone who indicated that he had seen a possible Amarok outbound from Halifax on the 102. I have my doubts that the photos originated in/around Halifax, however stranger things have happened.
So if there are any readers from Halifax that have seen an Amarok around the city or province, let me know.
I recently saw an article over on Jalopnik mentioning about Audi’s plant in Dresden that is producing e-diesel.
It seems like a simple enough process, however I’m sure that we would need a chemical engineer or two to fully explain the process to us. From a very high level, Audi generates electricity and uses that to break down water at very high temperatures into Hydrogen and Oxygen. The Hydrogen is then fed into a reactor with captured Carbon Dioxide and again using high temperatures, they produce something that they are calling Blue Crude. Blue Crude, which is comparable with crude oil, is then processed into things like e-diesel.
The output of the plant is still small, about 3000 liters per month, but it seems like a step in the right direction.
There have been several additional stories being circulated about VW considering adding a Pickup Truck and/or a Van to the US lineup. I can’t really see anything new in any of these articles, for the most part they just seem to be re-hashes of the articles from a month ago.
I saw one article that quotes VW salespeople saying that they would welcome them with open arms, however at this point the chicken tax is still a problem. There is also the fact that VW is investing approximately seven billion dollars in North America. The Chattanooga plate is being reworked to produce a SUV in addition to the Passat, perhaps they could squeeze in some trucks or vans at the same time.
For the moment, there is no real news at this point, just plenty of speculation.
However I have an idea for VW. Build your vans and trucks where ever. Bolt the front seats of a Passat into the bed and ship them to Chattanooga, at that point they are passenger vehicles and not trucks, think the Subaru BRAT. In Chattanooga, pull the seats out and put them in Passats. Now you have trucks and vans that have circumvented the chicken tax. Also unlike Ford who does or did the same thing with their small vans, you won’t be shredding the extra seats.
So news, here and here, is surfacing this morning that Mercedes may be looking at building a mid-sized pickup truck for roughly 2020.
The interesting things from the article on PickupTrucks.com is that the US will be producing commercial vans in the US in the near future. Also currently Mercedes builds vans for the US market in Germany, disassembles them, ships the pieces to the US and re-assembles them. Perhaps they might do the same thing with a pickup.
Time will tell
I took the headline directly from the first article that came out recently as a result of a press conference held in Hannover, Germany.
When I saw this last week while I was on vacation, I immediately emailed the author, Christoph Rauwald from Bloomberg Business, who was in Hannover and asked the obvious question, “How will VW avoid the Chicken Tax?” His response was that he asked VW exactly that. However they didn’t want to comment, they were still examining options and that there was no decision yet.
I waited a few days before posting this, hoping that more information might come out, but nothing concrete has. An article on Jalopnik, indicates that VW has plenty of manufacturing capability in North America and that this might be how they get around the Chicken Tax.
However for the moment, there is nothing new, just more rumours. If you hear anything, please drop me an email.
The reader who indicated he was going to Germany a couple of weeks ago sent along some photos from the Autostadt confidence track. He didn’t provide a lot of details, other than to say that it was a good day to get out on the autobahn and see where his rented car would just not go any faster, apparently 179 km/h was the magic number.
He indicated that the Amarok was quite capable on the track, but it was a rather limited course, it would have been nice to have had the time to go around a couple of times. The course had a water obstacle, several hill climbs, a boulder crawl, a curve to experience the side slope capabilities, a balance bridge and a wire bridge.
He also indicated that none of the few people that he talked to had any idea of a Canadian Availability date either.
There hasn’t been much news recently about the Amarok as it pertains to Canada and what little news that I have found is depressing. There was an article posted on Driving.ca, that talked about the return of compact pickups. The author reached out to Thomas Tetzlaff of VW Canada to comment on why the Amarok isn’t available in Canada.
Tetzlaff indicated that current government regulations make the introduction not feasible. Other than the Chicken Tax south of the border, what regulations play into this? If you know feel free to drop me a line.
I corresponded with a reader who wanted to know if I had any knowledge of the Autostadt in Germany. Other than knowing that it is possible to take an Amarok around the track there, I know very little. He indicated that he was going to be in Germany later this month and would try to get out in an Amarok and send along some photos.
For the moment, there may not be too many updates unless something changes in the market. I will keep the blog open for the next few months, but unless something changes I do not see any benefit in keeping it open long term.
Matt Hardigree over on Jalopnik started a thread on off road ambulances. I have to say that there are some pretty cool looking ambulances in the comments on the thread, but I liked that fact that he started the thread with a Volkswagen Amarok based ambulance from WAS.
I googled “WAS off road ambulance” and I was not disappointed, their All Terrain Ambulance looks to be well equipped, considering that it as to potentially go off road.
On the weekend I had the opportunity to check out a local GM dealership and drive by a second, both had the new mid-sized trucks in stock. In fact the dealership that I went to on Saturday had one sitting out front with the keys in the ignition and nobody around it. Almost couldn’t resist an impromptu road test.
I had a quick look at the outside and it is close to the size of the Amarok that I drove last year in Chile. Overall it looks like a capable enough pickup truck. I will have to try to get into a dealership sometime in the next couple of weeks and see if I can get one out for a test drive.
Still waiting for a couple of things, an Amarok or one of these mid-sized offerings with a diesel engine.