The Volkswagen Group has big plans for electric SUVs for the U.S. market under its revived Scout Motors brand, and now, its CEO has revealed that famed contract auto manufacturer Magna International will be its "engineering partner."

Speaking with Automotive News, Scout CEO Scott Keogh said the collaboration with Magna was a "good, efficient way to get the car to market on time." The Canadian company was helpful at the start of the project to get things moving, according to Keogh. "But now Scout engineers are in the lead. We're driving it," he said.

The Canadian auto parts supplier and contract manufacturer has vast expertise in developing and building body-on-frame off-roaders and electric vehicles. It currently builds the Mercedes-Benz G-Class at its plant in Graz, Austria, and it will make the EQG all-electric variant at the same site. Magna also builds the Jaguar I-Pace and Fisker Ocean electric SUVs at the plant.

Keogh did not comment on a recent report from Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung, which claimed Volkswagen Group paid $492 million to Magna to help develop the Scout models. Keogh said Magna will not be involved in the production of Scout EVs. Scout Motors will build its electric SUV and pickup truck at a new plant in Blythewood, South Carolina, on which it plans to break ground in the first quarter. Keogh said the company currently has around 300 employees and has been hiring around 50 more each month. The factory is expected to have 4,000 workers when it goes online in 2026.

Since Volkswagen Group has no internal expertise with body-on-frame vehicles outside the first-generation Amarok midsize pickup—which has been replaced by the Ford Ranger-based second-gen model—it makes sense that Scout Motors turned to an external partner for help in engineering the platform.

Scout Electric SUV

Scout electric SUV official teaser

Keogh told Automotive News that Scout's body-on-frame electric SUV is on track for a full unveiling in Q3 2024. The start of production, however, will be around late 2026, with sales expected to begin soon after. He said the SUV will be the first to launch, followed by the pickup truck "six, seven months after."

He noted that the design is "85, 90, 95 percent of the way there" and development is on track, with the first test mules likely to hit the road in the coming months.

The executive stressed that Scout vehicles are designed for the U.S. market first and foremost, unlike many Volkswagen Group products, which are European vehicles adjusted for the U.S. and North America. Despite being the original "import" brand, Volkswagen has long struggled to achieve the kind of mainstream success in America that it enjoys in Europe and other places. 

Perhaps the off-road EV's body-on-frame platform illustrates that America-specific philosophy best, as Keogh dismissed rumors that it is derived from Volkswagen Group's MEB architecture. "Not gonna happen. This is 100 percent capable, American, robust, full platform," he said.

He said the architecture is "completely unique," engineered and developed from the ground up. "The first thing we wanted to clear with this is to make sure this platform was credible," Keogh said.

The former Volkswagen Group of America boss added that the electric off-roader's platform, which was done with computer-aided design, doesn't exist physically yet. It now needs "to go get done in the real world," as the major architectural requirements and underpinnings have been "dialed in."

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