New Amarok designed Down Under

VW will do its utmost to ensure that its next Ford Ranger-based Amarok will avoid 'the X-Class issue' 

At a recent media event in Sydney, VW representatives responded strongly to questions around the company's joint-venture Amarok/Ranger bakkie project. Many fear that the next-generation Amarok, which will ride on a Ranger platform, could lose its character. Even worse, that it could suffer the same fate as Mercedes-Benz did with its (ultimately doomed) X-Class/Navara project.

An interesting aspect of the new Amarok is that VW’s Melbourne design bureau is assisting in the project. With the South African and Australian bakkie markets being very similar, this insight will be of value to local Amarok fans.

VW believes that the inputs from its Australian design and product specialists, will guide the new Amarok to fulfil customer expectations.

Those ideals might be worthy, but the balance of power is understood to be with Ford. It is unquestionably the lead partner in this bakkie joint-venture project and will set the agenda in terms of specification.

VW’s claims of being an integral partner are difficult to unpack. Ford is the clear global leader in bakkie technology, from ladder frame design to software integration. It is challenging to see where VW would be in a position to influence the outcome of this Amarok/Ranger project.

A significant issue will be to differentiate the new Amarok and Ranger, visually. With this in mind, Kim Gu-Han is VW’s point person. Having studied and produced exciting concept vehicles whilst being a student at the Universität Duisburg-Essen, Gu-Han is now leading the Amarok design team in Melbourne.

VW has certainly observed the issues and failures that beset Mercedes-Benz’s X-Class and will be keen to avoid those mistakes. And the company’s Australian design team is shouldering a heavy burden of responsibility, to ensure that happens.

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