Volkswagen is resurrecting the Scout line of trucks and off-road jeeps in an attempt to grab the pole position in the U.S. market for electric vehicles.
The company is already the world's second largest automaker, but its growth has stalled in the US -- thanks to a series of scandals and a lack of popular options in the top SUV and truck categories that dominate U.S. auto sales.
VW is hoping that Scout can change that and is putting a risky bet on re-launching an old brand that's been popular with collectors but out of the public eye for decades.
Scout's new president and CEO (as of September 1) is Scott Keogh, who previously led Volkswagen's North American operations.
""It's time now to concentrate more on the U.S. market and the U.S. customer, and one piece of the puzzle, for sure, is Scout," Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess told Axios in an exclusive interview.
The new Scout will operate as an independent U.S.-based company, according to Axios -- a move that will allow the company to add partners or other investors... and potentially have a public offering of its own to bring in more money for itself (and its parent company Volkswagen).
Bringing back the Scout, which was developed by International Harvester in 1961 to compete with Land Rovers, Jeeps and Broncos, takes some of the pressure off of the company in creating an entirely new brand.
And Scout's old aesthetics align nicely with Volkswagen's (now retired) Beetle and its (coming soon) ID.Buzz.
Plans have the new Scout line launching production in 2026 with a target of selling up to 250,000 Scout vehicles annually in the U.S. But getting ahead of America's current demand could be tricky.
By that time, the Ford Lightning will have been circulating for 4 years, the new Chevy Blazer will have years of production behind it, and upstart brands like Rivian and Polestar will have had time to iron out supply chain kinks.
Scout's new leader, Keogh, sees the launch of the company as a chance to help Volkswagen put the Dieselgate scandal behind it. (For those who don't know, VW was selling cars in the US installed with software to help its diesel-powered vehicles pass emissions tests, but continue to heavily pollute when driven on the open road).
"Electrification, to me, is a reset," Keogh told Axios.