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Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Hints a German Pickup Could Hit the States

* Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak Concept vehicle debuted today at the New York Auto Show
* Built on the Atlas SUV platform, features all-wheel drive
* Powered by 3.6-liter V-6 making 276 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque
* Sliding cargo rail can travel the length of the bed
* Designed to test the appetite for a Volkswagen truck in the United States

First things first: The Volkswagen Atlas Tanoak is currently just a concept. But since it was unveiled at this week’s New York Auto Show, it’s a totally unsubtle indication that the company’s executives want to see if there’s an appetite  for a VW pickup in America. And if the response we’ve seen so far today is any indication?  There’s plenty.

Now while it might come as a surprise to many Americans, the company already builds a truck. It’s called the Amarok — but you won’t find it at your local AutoNation dealer. It’s a popular and common model overseas, and would probably be a hit here if it weren’t for the Chicken Tax, a Johnson Administration-era law that places heavy tariffs on light pickup trucks imported to the United States.

That said, the Atlas Tanoak’s gateway to the States might be the fact that it’s built on the Volkswagen Atlas platform, because the Atlas is built right here in Tennessee. That would make the tariffs a mute point, and pave the way for it to arrive at your local AutoNation Volkswagen dealer.

Of course, just because Volkswagen could do that doesn’t mean it will. The pickup market is here is red hot, and many American buyers are fiercely loyal to their current makes. Seriously, there are families where showing up to Thanksgiving in something other than a Chevy or a Ford would spark some serious contention.

Its futuristic lighting and lines — which we love —aside, the rest of the Atlas Tanoak is pretty conventional, in that the  powertrain doesn’t have a hybrid component. The most innovative feature is the sliding cargo rail, which can travel the length of the entire bed, which our friends over at Slash Gear got a great photo of. Stay tuned for more news from the New York Auto Show!

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