Scout platform and design almost ready, mules on roads next year

SUV debut in late 2024, production starts late 2026

Not long after an Austrian publication reported on Volkswagen's partnership with Magna International to develop Scout's first two vehicles, Scout Motors CEO Scott Keogh spoke to Automotive News and provided some refinements on the development and the timeline. Earlier this year, Scout hired Chris Benjamin as lead designer, Benjamin's 25 years in the auto business including six years at Fiat Chrysler/Stellantis overseeing interior design for Chrysler, DodgeJeep, and Ram. Keogh told AN, "The design of the product is, I would say, 85, 90, 95 percent of the way there. ... Proportions readily dialed in, exterior design dialed in." The cabin's a bit further out, but he expects to take a seat in a full-sized interior model this week.  

We're told the Scout Motors headcount comes in around 300 and gains roughly 50 heads per month. In addition to pulling in-house engineering talent from the VW Group tribe, like Scout chief technical officer Burkhard Huhnke, the company raided the headcounts of other OEMs including our big domestic names, plus Tesla and Rivian.

Early mules are expected to roll out of locked garages early next year, probably around the same time Scout breaks ground on its production facility in Blythewood, South Carolina — Keogh confirmed Magna isn't going to build the rigs. Those prototypes will ride on the Scout-specific, ground-up chassis developed with Magna's assistance, but that the CEO described as a "100 percent capable, American, robust, full platform." It has passed all of its tests on paper and in simulations, next year's road trials will begin the proof.

The debut's planned for Q3 of 2024. Keogh said the SUV will be the first one to market because Scout was most known for being "a rugged SUV brand." The full-size pickup truck isn't due on the market until an estimated six or seven months after the SUV, so we expect we'll only see the SUV for next year's unveiling. That would give Scout just one product to publicly manage and time to gauge reactions. In view of production starting in late 2026, neither vehicle can be expected to find U.S. homes until early 2027.

Earlier this year, Scout reaffirmed its commitment to a $40,000 SUV as the first model — we're not sure if VW's figuring the current $7,500 incentive into that price. We'll be impressed if there's ever a competitive Scout sold at that $40,000; a four-door 2024 Ford Bronco starts around $41,000, the price leader 2024 Volkswagen ID.4 starts at about $40,000. By creating Scout as a discrete company selling electric vehicles, we expect Scout plans to skip a traditional dealership network and much of the overhead involved. However, three more wild years away from seeing the first a Scout window sticker, $40,000 sounds like a really low bar to limbo under.

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