The Volkswagen Group finally wants to make a big start in the USA. That doesn’t work without large SUVs and appropriately dimensioned pick-ups. From the end of 2026, success should be brought by electric giants, which will be offered under the new group brand Scout.
“The World needs Scouts” is the pithy slogan on the Scout Motors website. Scout – a new brand in the already bulging brand conglomerate of Wolfsburg. Many Europeans in particular will hardly have noticed Scout as a car manufacturer. Scout was formerly not an independent brand anyway, but the model name of a vehicle that was manufactured by International Harvester from 1960 to 1980. Their legendary bestseller: the Scout, or from the early 1970s the Scout II. International Harvester – officially only available in the USA – was quite successful for two decades. But the model name of the Scout was much better known than the brand name, because International Harvester was primarily active in the field of harvesting and agricultural machinery. The Scout – available only as a two-door SUV – was available with a choice of rear-wheel or all-wheel drive and was powered by engines with four, six and eight cylinders. A kind of rustic crossover with off-road vehicle qualities, which was intended for both leisure and work use. In the meantime, the model has almost unnoticed become its own brand under the shady Volkswagen roof. In search of the heart of the American car fan, those responsible for the group wanted a brand that did not cling to the phlegm of the diesel scandal, aroused US feelings and stood for large vehicles above the VW Touareg or Atlas – of course electric.
The newly created Scout Motors headquarters is located in Tysons, Virginia. The vehicles themselves will not roll off the assembly line at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, but over the next two years a new production facility will be built in Columbia / South Carolina, where an electric pick-up and an SUV will initially roll off the assembly line from the end of 2026. An investment of two billion US dollars is expected to create more than 4,000 new jobs in addition to the development of the two first models and local production. According to current plans, more than 200,000 Scout models per year can roll off the production line at the new Columbia plant at full capacity. “Scout Motors will provide thousands of South Carolina residents with unprecedented opportunity and prosperity for generations to come,” said Henry McMaster, Governor of South Carolina, “the Palmetto State with its rich history, outstanding people and excellent automotive reputation the perfect place to restart this iconic American brand.” With over 500 automotive-related companies and 75,000 employees, the state in the southern United States is one of the most important US regions in the auto industry. Especially BMW with its production in Spartanburg has ensured that South Carolina is the American number one when it comes to exporting vehicles.
The schedule is tight and once the locations for Scout Motors’ headquarters and production facilities have been found, the Volkswagen subsidiary is desperately looking for staff. Some responsible positions have already been found. The former Country Head of Volkswagen North America Scott Keogh is leading the new brand as CEO and President. Chris Benjamin was recently hired as the new chief designer. “Chris’ work is very productive. For nearly 25 years he has brought vehicles to life that stand out on the road,” said Scout CEO Scott Keogh, “His fingerprints can be seen on many of the most popular SUVs on the market today. I’m confident that Chris will build on this experience Before joining Scout, the Detroit College for Creative Studies graduate worked at Mercedes, BMW, Volvo and Stellantis, most recently leading interior design at Stellantis North America, including SUV and SUV brands Jeep, Wagoneer and Ram.
Chris Benjamin: “Classic Scout vehicles have always held a magnetic attraction for me. They created the archetype of the modern off-road vehicle in the 1960s and proved that an everyday car can also be a weekend adventurer. My task now is to reconcile the iconic design language of the past with all the innovative possibilities that electrification offers.” Scout Motors aims to build on the past successes of the International Harvester, which was used on the US market competed against competitors such as the Jeep CJ or a Chevrolet Blazer. The four-door Scout only made a name for itself in Europe. The small Swiss manufacturer Monteverdi created its Safari as a real luxury model from a converted Scout, which itself competed against the Range Rover – whose four-door model was initially also manufactured by Monteverdi.
Volkswagen wants to achieve a group-wide sales share of one tenth in the US market with a new understanding of US customers. Therefore, there is no way around large SUVs and pick-ups. Vehicles with an open loading area, and in particular the full-size pick-ups that are so successful in the USA, are the best-selling vehicle category in the USA. For almost five decades, the F-series from Ford and above all the volume model F-150 has been the absolute bestseller. It is now also available as an electric version called the F-150 Lightning, as will its competitors Chevrolet Silverado, Dodge Ram and Toyota Tundra. For many years, Volkswagen had thought about how to jump on the pick-up bandwagon. The Amarok, coming from Argentina, was not homologated for the US market, and the mid-size pick-ups planned several times on the modular transverse matrix were not big and strong enough to keep up with the full-size models.
I’m a recent graduate of the University of Missouri with a degree in journalism. I started working as a news reporter for 24 Hours World about two years ago, and I’ve been writing articles ever since. My main focus is automotive news, but I’ve also written about politics, lifestyle, and entertainment.