Scout: Volkswagen returns the American cult brand as an electric car

Scout: Volkswagen returns the American cult brand as an electric car

Shello are the biggest, heaviest and most popular cars among Americans: pick-ups and SUVs have led in sales rates in the United States for decades. Domestic brands such as Ford and General Motors place their market dominance on the success of these vehicles; German manufacturers have no role in it.

Volkswagen Group is now making a new attempt to penetrate this core segment of the U.S. automotive market. However, not under one of the existing brand names, but under a new one. Following the decision of the management board, the company is re-launching the traditional American brand: Scout.

Starting in 2026, Scout will manufacture two electric vehicles in the United States that will be similar to previous models of the 1960s and 1970s. Specifically, it is about a large SUV with a pick-up.

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With the exception of two very bad drawings, VW has not yet published any details. What is certain, however, is that Scout, like the Volkswagen, Skoda, Audi or Seat brands, should be an independent company. This is the ninth addition to the current eight car brands of the group.

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According to VW, Scout should use a “new technical platform concept” that is specifically designed for pick-ups and heavy SUVs. According to CEO Herbert Diess, electricity supply provides a “historic opportunity” to enter this segment and “become a key player in the US market”.

Volkswagen relies heavily on China

More business in the United States – that is an important strategic goal for Diess. Because Volkswagen has become very dependent on China in recent decades. A look at the statistics for the first quarter of 2022 shows this: Of all the cars sold by the group, more than 40 percent were delivered in China, but only six percent in the United States.

Even before the diesel scandal in 2015, Wolfsburg preferred to focus on the rapid growth of the Chinese market and ignored the US nonprofit subsidiary. The fact that VW then had to agree to deceive its diesel customers caused the brand to collapse in the USA.

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Recovery is now evident. “In the United States, the Volkswagen brand has been making a profit again for more than a decade,” Diess said at the Group’s Annual General Meeting, looking at figures from the previous financial year. Above all, the new E designs should allow VW to grow again in the United States.

At the end of this decade, Diess seeks to increase the market share of the group in the United States by ten percent. In the case of clean electric vehicles, it was about eight percent last year, said the CEO, almost twice the combustion engines. However, the electronics market is also growing stronger.

Competitive competition in the taking market

And the competition is fierce, especially in the pick-up market. Top dogs have already begun to strengthen their successful models. The electric version of the Ford F150 specifically, an American car that has been on sale for decades, is in high demand.

RAM brands, which belong to competitor VW Stellantis, and Chevrolet (GM) have also announced power grabbing. There are also founders such as Rivian, whose image is already on the market, and of course the long-awaited Tesla Cybertruck, whose date has yet to be launched.

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Given this competitive environment, UBS analysts see the Scout program as a “high-risk proposal in a highly competitive market” that will see a variety of electronic models by 2026. However, the revival of the brand could mean “entering the segment”. which VW is not well represented “.

Scout is said to benefit from the gravity surrounding the introduction of electronic cars

At Volkswagen, they clearly have the idea that the Scout could also benefit from the controversy surrounding the introduction of electric vehicles. Rivian, for example, raised billions of dollars through the IPO – and then collapsed on the stock market.

According to the Wall Street Journal, which previously reported on the plans, VW is considering involving other investors in the new subsidiary. There are one billion euro investment talks and a targeted annual sales of 250,000 Scouts.

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Last year, the group sold a total of 805,000 vehicles in the United States. Since capacity at the Chattanooga factory will not be sufficient for the planned growth in electric vehicle production, expansion is already planned. A separate Scout factory is also considered as an option.

Scout models are considered to be the forerunners of today’s SUVs

The VW Atlas, a seven-seat SUV that is not offered in Europe, is currently doing very well in the United States. The car, which is more than five meters long, is larger than the Touareg, the largest VW SUV model in Europe.

The US subsidiary Volkswagen currently does not offer the Amarok pick-up, which is collected in South Africa. The next generation of Amarok, with diesel or heavy-duty diesel engines, will be launched by the VW commercial automotive unit this year.

Future Scout models should have little connection to this car. The first diagram shows that VW designers want to recreate a large portion of the exterior of previous cars. These were manufactured and sold in the United States between 1960 and 1979 and are considered to be the forerunners of today’s SUV models.

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In the future, Scouts will be the basis for the VW Group’s electric car architecture, having batteries on the floor and, thanks to small electric motors, having the right amount of space where the engine is located today with combustion engines: the hood.

With the F150 Electric, Ford demonstrates this “frunk” capability: car mechanics should store their tools there in the future. The car also has machine sockets on board.

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The fact that Volkswagen could revive the “cult brand”, as Diess calls it, is linked to Traton’s commercial automotive unit agreement in 2020: the truck manufacturer bought its American rival Navistar, whose portfolio owned Scout rights.

Previously, this was the name of a model from the American group Harvester, which later went on to become a Navistar. Trademark rights for Scout went to Volkswagen when Traton bought an American truck manufacturer in 2020.

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