Volkswagen Group plans to build electric pickups and SUVs under the Scout brand at a new production site in the United States.
The announcement was made by CEO Herbert Diess yesterday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Reuters reports. The executive acknowledged that VW is assessing "brownfield sites and some greenfield locations."
Separately, Volkswagen Group CFO Arno Antlitz said the company does not rule out an eventual share listing for the Scout brand. However, he added that it was too soon to discuss such a decision.
The carmaker plans to expand its presence in the US market in both the passenger and commercial vehicle segments, and the Scout electric SUVs and pickups will play an important role in that strategy. Volkswagen Group plans to invest $7.5 billion over the next five years to expand its US product line, including the addition of an electric pickup truck, Antlitz said.
Mind you, VW US dealers were caught off guard by the plans to set up a separate and independent Scout unit as the automaker did not commit to selling its future rugged EVs through existing dealerships.
Two days after the May 11 official announcement, VW of America sales and marketing boss Andrew Savvas sent a letter to the brand's 650 dealers telling them that Scout will be an independent brand within the group and that they will have no claim on its products.
Understandably, dealers suspect Volkswagen might be looking to adopt Tesla's direct sales model for Scout EVs or set up new franchises that would bypass them.
Their growing concern led dealers to demand answers from VW head honchos through the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA) and state associations. Automotive News reports that NADA CEO Mike Stanton sent a letter to Scott Keogh, CEO of VW Group of America, on May 24, urging him to "quickly and clearly communicate Scout's distribution plan to your dealers who have made significant investments to support VW's business model and transformation to electrification."
In the document, Stanton also warned that "the longer your dealers go without information and answers to their questions, the more that speculation will fill the void." Several state dealer associations sent similar letters to the automaker.