Joint venture could reduce production costs for both trucks
A Ford Ranger for the North American market is just around the corner, but the Blue Oval is already working on the next-gen midsize pickup coming in the mid-2020s. Now, in a strange twist of formerly forbidden fruit colliding with current forbidden fruit, a new report suggests that the truck could be co-developed with the second-generation Volkswagen Amarok.
Speaking with Australia’s GoAuto, Volkswagen Group Australia managing director Michael Bartsch revealed that the German automaker is looking at “all options” to bring the Amarok’s cost down. Ford and Volkswagen recently formed a joint venture for manufacturing commercial vehicles, and some have speculated the partnership could eventually include a midsize truck. “All avenues are being explored,” Bartsch told GoAuto. “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. What I think is very clear is, in order to be competitive in Australia, we have to get the cost base of [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.”
Bartsch sees Argentina as a problem due to its unstable currency while Germany’s high manufacturing costs make it less than ideal for exporting around the world. These factors contribute to the Amarok’s high price point relative to Australian competitors built in Thailand and Japan.
Should the joint venture between Ford and Volkswagen lead to the next-generation Ranger and Amarok being developed together, Bartsch said that VW would do “a better job at differentiating the products,” a reference to the Nissan Navara-based Mercedes-Benz X-Class. The executive said brands should be careful in maintaining their position in the market, especially when it involves co-developing vehicles with other automakers. Bartsch said that any joint venture would have to conform to each manufacturer’s brand values.
Bartsch praised Ford for doing a great job on the global Ranger, which he believes is well-positioned in the market. Should Ford and Volkswagen work together for the next Ranger and Amarok, this wouldn’t be the first time that these two automakers have collaborated. In 1987, Ford and Volkswagen co-developed two platforms for the South American market, and in Europe they co-developed a number of vans that included the Ford Galaxy and Volkswagen Sharan.