Volkswagen Reveals Robust Pickup
By Chris Haak
In a move that was a surprise to few, Volkswagen has revealed its Robust pickup a few days ahead of its official debut at the AA Commercial Vehicles Show in Hanover, Germany. Not to say that the pickup isn’t a robust vehicle, but when I say that VW revealed its Robust pickup, that’s the name of the truck. Sort of like a “Who’s on First?” situation. When the Robust’s production finally begins in early 2009, it will be built at VW’s plant in Pacheco, Argentina. Initially, the truck will be offered for sale in South America, South Africa, Australia, and Europe, but likely not in North America.
The vehicle to be shown actually isn’t known officially as the Robust, but nearly everyone expects the production vehicle to carry that name. This truck is actually known in concept form as the Concept Pickup, but is being shown in nearly production-ready guise. Only a few concept-like silly touches such as the search and rescue theme, blue lights above the headlights, and the LED light bar appear to be concept car fantasies, although VW claims that the vehicle shown is only “a study, not the complete vehicle.”
The pickup’s styling is a combination of the new VW family face, seen on the Mk VI Golf also making the auto show rounds these days, and a profile similar to the Honda Ridgeline’s, with the bed integrated with the four door cab. Like the Ridgeline and unlike the Chevrolet Avalanche, there is no access (“midgate”) between the pickup bed and the cab. The bed is five feet long, which is pretty typical in the four-door pickup market today, even among full-size pickups, which the Robust likely is not large enough to classify as.
Inside, the Concept Pickup has a fairly spartan interior, with a lot of grey plastic surfaces, and chrome trim limited to the bezels surrounding the gauges. Few, if any, changes would have to be made to the Concept Pickup’s interior to prepare it for production.
Powertrain choices will likely include direct injection four cylinder gasoline engines, as well as small turbodiesels for their superior low-end torque and fuel economy.
VW plans to build about 90,000 units of the pickup annually, all in its efforts to become the world’s largest automaker by 2018. Absent a complete collapse of the full-size pickup market in the US and gas prices in the stratosphere, I wouldn’t expect a “value priced” VW pickup – a company without much of a reputation for trucks – to be something the market asks for, so we Americans will have to look at the Robust from afar.
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