Autoweek Asks: Can van-based pickups make a comeback?
For a nation so devoted to pickup trucks, it's a bit of a surprise how few varieties are actually sold in the U.S. Sales of the Ford F-150 alone practically make it its own country with its own Air Force, Navy, Supreme Court, sports teams and bureaucracy. What's more, a few automakers are preparing for a future where everything will likely be some kind of truck.
But almost all of the pickups are of the North American variety -- the kind that is starting to resemble diesel locomotives with each redesign. Of course, plenty of other types of trucks have fallen out of favor over the years or never came here to begin with.
For instance, the El Camino-type ute has been largely dead for a while, after a series of cameo appearances that ended in the 1980s. The Very Small Pickup, last represented by the likes of the Dodge Rampage (the Pomeranian of pickups), is also nowhere to be found today even though it remains popular in South America. Likewise, the "European" pickup that's actually a panel van with two or four doors and a bed is only seen on our roads when someone imports a 1980s VW Transporter truck. Even the compact trucks like the Mitsubishi-based Dodge 50 (remember those?) had fallen out of favor by the early 1990s.
While the Chicken Tax keeps a large number of trucks out -- this is why Mitsubishi doesn't sell the Triton here -- one interesting European truck that Volkswagen is thinking about making could be a surprising fit for the U.S., especially since it was sold here decades ago. Wolfsburg is currently mulling various cargo versions of the electric ID Buzz concept, which was recently shown as an insanely-accessorized concept at the LA auto show. The various commercial versions of the production Buzz van could include two-door and four-door pickups -- the kind that VW sold in the U.S. in the 1960s -- but are rarely seen outside of classic VeeDub events.
While the pickup version of the ID Buzz has not been greenlit yet, could it be something that U.S. audiences would be open to buying?
Let us know in the comments below.