As Volkswagen seeks to revive the Scout brand in the United States, CEO Herbert Diss shed light on the decision, saying it was an opportunity for the German car giant to “become much more American”.
Last Wednesday, VW announced plans to re-launch the Scout as an all-electric pickup and “rugged” SUV, prototypes of which are due to be unveiled in 2023, and production is scheduled to begin in 2026.
In the same announcement, the company said the vehicles would be “designed, engineered and manufactured in the US for American customers”.
“The United States is our biggest growth opportunity,” said Dis, who spoke to CNBC’s Annette Weisbach last week.
He further explained why the automaker focused on fierce competition from the US market.
“We are still very niche, very small, with a market share of around 4%. [in the country]”We want to get up to 10% market share by the end of this decade.”
Diss stressed that the firm had dynamics, was profitable and “progressed really well with electric cars.”
These vehicles include the all-electric ID Buzz, which is inspired by the T1 Microbus or “hippie” minibus. European versions of ID Buzz should go on sale this year, and sales of the American model will begin in 2024.
This 1970 image shows people driving a version of the Volkswagen Microbus at an Oregon rock festival.
Brian Payne / Pix | Archive of Michael Ox Getty Images
VW hopes that the introduction of Scout and ID Buzz will continue the tradition of introducing iconic designs to the US market. Over the years they have included the Beetle and various iterations of the minibus, for example, shown above.
The history of Scout dates back to the 1960s, when International Harvester – originally an agricultural company now known as Navistar International Corporation – began development. Today, Navistar is part of the Traton Group, a subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group.
Production of the Scout stopped in 1980, but Volkswagen’s decision to restart and Disa’s comments provide some clues for further strategy.
“If we really want to be relevant in America, we need to look at other segments,” he said. “And pickups, big SUVs, are very, very big in America.”
Dees further described Scout as “a favorite brand in the United States. So it’s a good opportunity for us to become much more American.”
Asked whether the Scout pickup would be exclusively for the U.S. market, he declined. “I wouldn’t say it’s ‘totally dedicated,’ but above all … it’s an American product.”
“It will be an American product for American customers, designed for the American environment. Will it be sold on the street? Maybe it will be decided later,” Dace added.
VW plans to create this year a separate and independent company to design, design and manufacture Scout pickups and SUVs for the US market.
Volkswagen is focusing on the world’s electric car, away from the “dieselgate” scandal that rocked it in the 2010s. Today, its electrification plans put it in direct competition with long-known automakers such as GM and Ford, as well as relatively newcomers such as Tesla.
As for the company’s overall prospects in the US, Diss was tuned.
“We are building capacity in the United States … later this year, around August, production of ID 4 will begin at our facilities in Chattanooga,” he said.
“We have programs for Audi and Porsche to increase their market share, and … we’ll see that some more products, electric products, are made in America, for America.”