Hello Faithful Readers
My apologies for my long absence, I received some mixed health news in the fall and the news of VW’s dieselgate dominated the news, so I didn’t feel that I could contribute much to the noise.
There hasn’t been any news as it relates to the Amarok and its appearance in Canada. However if I do hear of something, I will publish it as soon as I can.
I did find an article over on VWVortex that shows the new design for the Amarok that should start shipping later this year to places that get it to start with.
So I was contacted by a reader, who I will identify as Jim. Jim’s father lives and works both in Mexico and Ontario and as a result has driven his Mexican plated Amarok to Ontario. The vehicle spends a fair bit of time in Ontario, but typically returns to Mexico each year. It’s Mexican insurance includes full North American coverage. He indicated that he can get about 1100-1200km out of his 80 litre tank.
So if you see the Amarok pictured below driving around Ontario it could be Jim or his father. Jim was also nice enough to offer to let me drive it, but he is about a 7 hour drive away, so a little bit excessive.
Jim, enjoy the truck, I also stripped the EXIF data out of the photo you provided before I posted it, there was enough information in the geotagged photo taken on an iPhone 6 to give me the exact location where the photo was taken. Also thanks for the photo.
There is a brief article over on The Fast Lane Truck (tfltruck.com) that shows us a few photos of Amaroks spotted in Arizona. They also mention that the Chicken Tax is supposed to go away in the near future.
If there was only a single Amarok, I would chalk it up to someone visiting from Mexico or perhaps that picture even being taken in Mexico. However in this case there are three Amaroks shown in the photo and there is a sign in a couple of the photos that is in English, as opposed to Spanish. So it is very likely that these photos were indeed taken in Arizona.
Not certain if this is a sign of things to come, but with the new baby diesel coming to the Chevy/GM twins, this may be a sign that VW is looking closer at the American market.
At one point in the past VW went on record indicating that they would have to be able to sell 100,000 Amaroks to consider entering the American market. If you look at the monthly sales numbers for July 2015 compiled by pickuptrucks.com, you will see that the new Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon are currently selling almost 10,000 units a month. Also the old Toyota Tacoma is selling over 15,000 units a month. If VW were to enter the market and sell similar numbers, they would hit their 100,000 vehicle number. I also wonder how the removal of the chicken tax would affect the number that they have to sell to break even.
So Automotive News has an article that mentions that the chicken tax is currently a piece of the puzzle in two trade deals that the US is working on, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Both of these deals will remove the chicken tax…eventually.
The most likely outcome is that the chicken tax would see a gradual repeal over a period of years. Also at least the TTIP would see an alignment in the EU and American regulations.
So perhaps in a few years we will see EU spec’d Amaroks arriving in Canada.
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.