VW of America CEO Will Switch to Run Scout Off-Road EV Brand

VW is reviving the Scout name and taking it seriously with this personnel move.

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VW of America CEO Will Switch to Run Scout Off-Road EV Brand © VW of America CEO Will Switch to Run Scout Off-Road EV Brand

Volkswagen stirred up a storm of hype in May when it announced its revival of the Scout name as an independent off-road electric vehicle brand. The news was mostly met with excitement, though some more traditional four-wheelers that remember the International Harvester trucks of old made plain their doubts. It’s too early to say if those are warranted or not, but the decision to put current VW of America CEO Scott Keogh in charge of Scout says something about the automaker’s intentions.

Axios was the first to report on Keogh’s new role, and according to the outlet, he’s a big reason why Scout is coming back in the first place. Handily, VW acquired the Scout branding rights after its Traton truck division absorbed Navistar International. Rumors of VW actually putting the name to use started popping up immediately, though not everyone took it seriously.

Apparently, Keogh did. He told Axios that he came across a restored IH Scout while having a family beach day, which led him to advocate for an electric truck brand that could make VW more relevant in the United States. Everything came together quickly when he realized "the rights to the brand were just sitting there.”

Although VW has been on the opposite of a hot streak in the U.S. since Dieselgate broke in 2015, Keogh sees electrification as “a reset.” That’s fair to say as we’ve seen old and new automakers alike build EVs that outperform their internal combustion counterparts in every way but driving range. The performance potential is undoubtedly there, and in environmental terms, this could be a way for VW’s many brands to rebuild its reputation stateside.

Keogh formerly served as the president of Audi of America after working as the brand's chief marketing officer for six years. He'll start his new gig on Sept. 1, and Pablo Di Si—currently the executive chairman of Volkswagen's South American Region—will take over as VW of America CEO.

We don’t know all that much about Scout’s plans just yet, though the first prototypes are expected to launch in 2023. Early renderings of a familiarly shaped SUV and pickup truck have given everyone something to go off of, visually, and both models are confirmed to ride on a new electric platform. It’s likely to be a modular one that’ll be shared among VW’s other large battery-powered vehicles when Scout production starts in 2026.

Beyond that, your guess is as good as mine. My coworker Andrew Collins, who’s a fellow 4x4 fan and owner of a ‘75 IH, wrote a solid take stating that Scout should build the first cheap electric off-roader. I’d be game for that, even it’s down on power compared to something like the Rivian R1S. It doesn’t have to be quick; it just has to be capable of going where a VW Golf wouldn’t dare.

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