Volkswagen is preparing to meet aggressive new EU emissions laws for pick-up trucks by advancing plans for a fully-electric Amarok ute
Volkswagen is preparing for a possible transition to strict new European emissions regulations as soon as July 2025, and as part of that work, a fully-electric version of the brand’s new-generation Amarok ute is being planned.
The second-generation Amarok will be released in Australia in April 2023 with a range of diesel and petrol engines, but no hybrid or electric variant – but the vehicle, which shares its platform with the Ford Ranger, is capable of full electrification, senior Volkswagen sources confirm.
Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles product management executive Petr Sulc confirmed to Chasing Cars that space was deliberately reserved in the Amarok and Ranger’s dimensions for a circa-100kWh battery.
“We are willing to make the Amarok for the next 10 years, so we have to [adapt to new EU regulations],” Sulc told Chasing Cars.
Sulc spoke at length about the difficulty in striking the best compromise between power, electric driving range, towing capacity and payload and hinted that payload would be the first metric Volkswagen would compromise in, in a similar manner to the F-150 Lightning EV, Ford’s existing large electric ute that could come to Australia.
“If you put in a big battery, you lose 300-400kg payload. You can achieve [high] towing capacity, but the payload really drops down. It is a solution [to emissions laws], but we need to find a compromise between the electric range and the payload.”
“For me as a product manager, what I would like to do is keep the payload and towing capacity and decrease the electric range,” Sulc said, though the Amarok boss acknowledged Australians value driving range the most. “This is exactly why we are in such a difficult situation.”
The EV Amarok’s circa-100kWh battery would provide a target range of around 500km for the Amarok, which could be released in Europe as soon as June 2025 – a key trigger point when EU lawmakers will force tough new emissions limits on car manufacturers if a delay is not negotiated soon.
Sulc acknowledged that ute customers will want an EV that can tow and has decent payload – plus sufficient range, as “they don’t want to stop every couple of hundred kilometres to charge.”
Sulc confirmed that Volkswagen is capable of meeting the mid-2025 target if pushed, but acknowledged that additional development time beyond 2025 would be ideal to create an electric pick-up truck with fewer compromises.
“Ford is in exactly the same situation – it is not our problem alone,” Sulc said, while indicating that there remains a possibility that the new Euro 7 emissions laws, which will limit both petrol and diesel engines to a cap of 60g/km (down from 125g/km for diesel now), could be deferred past 2025.
However, if a 2025 release date is required, Volkswagen will ask its collaboration partner Ford to deliver an Amarok EV with a dual-motor AWD electric powertrain and a range of about 500km, implying consumption of around 20kWh/100km.
Sulc said that Ford and Volkswagen had not yet committed to a final decision on how to package the rear electric motors – specifically, if the Ranger and Amarok would have a motor in the rear differential region or individual in-wheel motors in the style of the Rivian R1T.
To amortise the significant costs associated with building the electric Amarok, Sulc said the ute could be joined by a rugged Volkswagen electric SUV on the T6.2 platform that would likely be similar in dimensions to the Ford Everest.
Product manager Sulc confirmed that an electric Amarok released in 2025 would have to compromise between electric driving range, payload, and towing capacity. It is certain that at least one of these metrics will be significantly reduced compared to the diesel version of the Amarok which will be released in Australia soon.
Pressed on which capability would be compromised on, Sulc confirmed that payload is the key contender – mirroring Ford’s existing approach to electrifying its utes. In North America, the larger F-150 Lightning EV pick-up retains a high towing capability of 4500 kg, but its payload is cut by 24 percent from 1306 kg to 1014 kg.
The Amarok’s payload is as high as 1190kg but could be cut in half in order to retain heavy towing capability while promising a strong unladen driving range of around 500km.
Senior sources indicate that it is likely Ford will launch a Ranger plug-in hybrid (PHEV) model in the next year or two with a circa-25kWh battery promising a range of between 80km and 100km.
Volkswagen is also examining such a move as an interim solution for the Amarok. If a plug-in hybrid Amarok is confirmed, it is likely to use a 2.3-litre turbocharged petrol four-cylinder engine as the base powertrain, Sulc confirmed to Chasing Cars.
If an electric Amarok is locked in for a 2025 release, it could become one of the only electric dual-cab utes on the Australian market.
EU regulations on utes and vans are much more bullish than CO2 laws in the Asia-Pacific region, making it probable that there would be an electric Amarok before Toyota released a Hilux EV.
Chinese manufacturer LDV recently launched its eT60 electric ute in Australia at a high price of $92,990 before on-road costs. The eT60 is a single-motor, rear-wheel drive EV with a modest range of 330km – metrics that fall short of Volkswagen’s requirements for an electric Amarok.
In Austraila, diesel V6 versions of the second-generation Amarok are expected to be priced between $67,000 and $80,000. A fully-electric version of the ute could push into the $90,000 to $100,000 space.
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