New Volkswagen 4×4 EV will have true off-road ability
Plans back on the table to develop electric version of VW Amarok’s chassis for ‘ID Ruggdzz’ SUV
Volkswagen’s plan to launch an electric off-road SUV – known as the ID Ruggdzz – appears to be back on track, following confirmation that the ladder-frame chassis used by the new Amarok pick-up is being engineered to take an electric drivetrain.
But in an interview with Autocar at the launch of the new Amarok in South Africa in December, Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles CEO Carsten Intra confirmed that engineering aimed at accommodating a battery and electric motors within the Ford platform is ongoing, despite recent reports suggesting such plans had been abandoned.
“We’re looking at it together with Ford,” said Intra when asked about the possibility of full electrification of the Volkswagen Amarok’s ladder-frame chassis. “It’s still on the agenda,” he added.
Although Intra would not be drawn on the rumoured plans, Volkswagen is said to be considering adopting the electrified chassis, codenamed T6, for a new SUV model that is heavily related to the Amarok but styled in the mould of the ID Ruggdzz – a 4×4 SUV concept that has never been shown in public.
Such a move would mirror that of Ford, which uses the Ranger as the starting point for its Everest SUV, a seven-seat body-on-frame model not sold in the UK.
Shown to the media in 2019, the ID Ruggdzz was originally conceived around the Volkswagen Group’s MEB platform. At the time, Volkswagen brand CEO Ralf Brandstätter, now head of Volkswagen’s Chinese operations, indicated it was meant to rival possible electric versions of the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wrangler and Toyota 4Runner.
However, plans to progress the ID Ruggdzz concept to production by 2023 were put on hold in late 2020, as Volkswagen moved to consolidate its EV operations following the software glitches that affected the launch phase of its first dedicated electric model, the Volkswagen ID 3.
Together with the ID Ruggdzz, Volkswagen also confirmed that it had cancelled plans for a production version of the retro ID Buggy, saying it had decided to concentrate on establishing volume-market ID models instead.
Details surrounding the resurrection of plans for the ID Ruggdzz remain scarce, but Autocar can confirm the ongoing engineering of the T6 chassis is headed by Ford Australia in Melbourne, where much of the development of the new Amarok was done.
Further engineering is also taking place at Ford’s Dearborn headquarters in the US, according to Intra.
Taking a lead from Ford and its new Everest, the latest proposals for the electric body-on-frame SUV are said to draw heavily on the Amarok in terms of the styling and interior, which has been designed to house seating for up to seven.
Volkswagen won’t be drawn on details of the measures being undertaken to electrify the T6 platform. However, officials have admitted it would require a battery with a capacity of at least 110kWh in order to deliver the towing capability and range expected of such an SUV.
Ford is no stranger to the electrification of ladder-frame chassis platforms. It has engineered its P-platform, which underpins the F-150 and F-Series Super Duty, to accept both 98kWh and 131kWh batteries as well as dual electric motors for the electric-powered Ford F-150 Lightning.
Other likely changes to the T6 platform before its possible use in a production-ready ID Ruggdzz include the adoption of multi-link rear suspension in place of the leaf spring arrangement used by the Ranger and Amarok.
However, it is unclear how electrifying the T6 platform would affect Volkswagen’s move to revive the International Harvester Scout brand with a similar line-up of 4×4 models.
Recent reports have suggested the CEO of Scout, Scott Keogh, is in talks with Taiwanese-based contract manufacturing specialist Foxconn’s newly created Foxtron Vehicle Technologies division for the supply of an electric vehicle platform.