VW’s Scout confirms $40,000 electric SUV, plans $2B South Carolina plant

Volkswagen’s new Scout Motors EV division on Friday confirmed that its first model will be a $40,000 electric SUV to be built at a new $2 billion factory near Columbia, South Carolina.

Scout, which plans to build rugged EVs inspired by the classic International Harvester Scout SUV produced from 1960 to 1980, said in a press release that the factory will produce 200,000 vehicles annually when at full capacity, and will create at least 4,000 permanent jobs.

Groundbreaking for the South Carolina factory is planned for mid-2023, with production expected to start by the end of 2026, the brand said. The first model produced will be a “rugged utility vehicle” or “RUV,” Scout CEO Scott Keogh said in an interview with TechCrunch, followed “in quick succession” by a larger electric pickup truck.

Teaser for Scout SUV concept

Teaser for Scout SUV concept

Keogh said the utility vehicle aims for a base price in the $40,000 range, while the pickup will be “a bit north of there.”

Both models are due to be unveiled in 2024. That may represent a slight delay. Volkswagen announced Scout in May 2022, and it said then that first prototypes would be shown in 2023. VW dealers were completely surprised by the announcement, which effectively bypasses them for a Tesla-like sales model. The 2026 production timeline has remained consistent throughout, however.

Also consistent is simple, squared-off styling. A teaser released by Scout alongside the factory announcement shows shapes broadly similar to the sketches released by VW in 2022. That design language will help connect the modern Scout EVs to their 1960s inspiration.

1971-80 International Harvester Scout

1971-80 International Harvester Scout

Produced by International Harvester, a company mostly known for tractors and commercial vehicles, the original Scout was one of the first SUVs. VW acquired the rights to the Scout name when it bought International Harvester successor company Navistar in 2020.

Like the original, the Scout EVs will both use a body-on-frame platform, VW previously confirmed. This platform will likely be exclusive to Scout, but might borrow components from other VW Group platforms. The parent company hasn’t ruled out sharing the Scout platform with other brands—and it reportedly might with Audi.

Yet with so many back-to-basics electric SUVs in the works—including a simpler Rivian R2, and the Jeep Recon—will there be enough of a market left by the time Scout arrives?

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