Pickup Undergoing Arctic Testing
After recently posting a story about Volkswagen executives checking out the 2009 Ford F-150 during the 2008 Detroit Auto Show, look what was caught doing some arctic night driving in northern Scandinavia.
The truck in these pictures might look like a Toyota Hilux Double Cab but its German registration numbers indicate that it's registered in Brunswig, Germany. Brunswig is located near Volkswagen's headquarters in Wolfsburg. It's where most VW test vehicles are licensed.
There are two speculative tales about the truck in these pictures.
The first version is from spy photographer Robert Sandseth, who nabbed these shots. Sandseth says Volkswagen is preparing to badge engineer the Hilux and will sell it as the new Volkswagen Taro.
It wouldn't be the first time VW has sold rebadged Hiluxes. Toyota and VW had an agreement in the 1980s and 1990s, where VW built Hilux-based Taro pickups in its Hanover, Germany factory. The trucks were produced from 1989 to 1994.
But considering Volkswagen AG Chairman Martin Winterkorn's comments last year that VW plans to build and sell its own small trucks, plus his pledge that VW will outsell Toyota worldwide by 2018, the second story over at WorldCarFans.com seems more likely.
WorldCarFans says the truck in these pictures is actually an all new Volkswagen pickup disguised as a Toyota Hilux. WCF expects the new truck will be launched by the end of 2009. It will initially be sold in Europe and South America with diesel and gas powertrains.
WCF also says that VW is considering exporting the new Taro to the United States - which could better explain VW product planner interest in domestic trucks, like the F-150, last month in Detroit. VW would have to have a good business case for importing a new truck, though. Pickups built overseas are subject to a 25% tariff (i.e. chicken tax).
If an American-bound VW import pickup becomes a reality, maybe this summer we'll see the truck doing some hot weather testing in Death Valley.