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Volkswagen thinking small as it considers U.S.-bound truck

It sees an opportunity to undercut rivals.

Volkswagen introduced the Atlas Tanoak concept during the 2018 New York auto show. It returned to the 2019 edition of the event with another experimental truck named Tarok. This time, it might preview a model we'll see in American showrooms.

According to Motor Authority, the Tanoak has been scrapped because it would cost too much to build. The Tarok -- which has already been confirmed for production for the Brazilian market -- would arrive as a smaller, cheaper model positioned below so-called compact trucks like the Ford Ranger and the Chevrolet Colorado.

"We've been looking at this for a while now, it's probably the biggest open...white space in our portfolio," affirmed Scott Keogh, the head of Volkswagen's American division, on the sidelines of the New York auto show. He called the Tarok a "trial balloon," according to Motor1, and didn't confirm the model is on its way to American showrooms. It's simply one of the projects the company is looking at as it examines how to expand its line-up in the coming years.

With that said, Keogh has a good idea of how Volkswagen could return to America's highly competitive truck segment.

"I do see an opportunity where these trucks have all moved into the $50,000s and the $60,000s and beyond. And that is the price of an expensive luxury car. I think there's an opportunity and I think [Volkswagen] can come in with an extremely smart price point," he said. "I think you could put a vehicle like that in the marketplace in the mid-$20,000, with proper engine, proper everything."

If it receives the proverbial green light for production, the American-spec Tarok will ride on the company's modular MQB platform. It will be powered by a four-cylinder engine, and it will be offered with Volkswagen's 4Motion all-wheel drive system.

Keogh stopped short of revealing when Volkswagen will decide whether to return to the pickup truck segment in America. What's clear is that, if Volkswagen jumps in, it will do so with a vehicle that will stand out from every other pickup currently found on dealer lots.

Live photos by Brian Williams.

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