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Scout Moves Forward With Magna As ‘Engineering Partner’

Photo Courtesy Scout Motors

You may remember the Scout SUV from a few decades ago. The off-road SUVs were popular in the 1960s and 70s. The original International Harvester Scout was manufactured from 1961 to 1980

Photo Courtesy Scout Motors

Volkswagen (VW) acquired the rights to the brand in 2020. In May 2022, VW announced the founding of Scout Motors, the company dedicated to reviving these classic SUVs with electric power. They will be made exclusively in the United States.

Recently, Scout Motors inked a deal with car manufacturer Magna International. You may recognize the name; this is the firm building the Fisker Ocean EVs. The partnership was confirmed by Automotive News, who interviewed Scott Keogh, Scout president and CEO. He said Magna will be Scout’s “engineering partner” moving forward. 

Magna has experience developing body-on-frame off-roaders and electric vehicles (EVs). It has made several electric cars like the Mercedes EQG and its famed G-Class, in addition to the Jaguar I-Pace.

Although Magna will not build the Scout cars, it will have significant input on technical design and functionality. 

In November 2023, speculation from the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung said $492 million  (€450 million) was paid to Magna to develop Scout models. Keogh did not comment on the finances but reiterated that Magna is not producing the cars. 

Despite Magna’s main production plant based in Graz, Austria, Scout will still create its electric off-roaders in South Carolina. The Blythewood plant is currently under construction as of November 2023. Once operational, the plant will create approximately 4,000 new jobs and produce 20,000 EVs a year. Only Scout EVs will be produced here; no other VW brands are expected to follow. 

Photo Courtesy Scout Motors

Keogh hopes to have the first electric truck and SUV ready for its unveiling in 2024. The plan is to get production started in 2026. He told Automotive News that the designs were “85, 90, 95% of the way there.”

Scout hired former Stellantis car designer Chris Benjamin to lead the vehicle design. Benjamin worked with Jeep and Ram designs while with the European-based auto conglomerate.

His last three projects included the Jeep Recon EV, the Jeep Wagoneer S Concepts, and the 2024 Jeep Wrangler. 

“We’re trying to avoid innovating for novelty sake but rather innovating for real usability,” Benjamin told InsideEVs. He’s looking into how he can make Scout roofs detachable, similar to Jeep Wranglers. The vehicles will have standard tech like Apple CarPlay, but manual control of the car will still be a big part of the driver experience. 

“Classic Scout vehicles have always exerted a magnetic pull on me. They created the archetype for the modern SUV in the ‘60s and proved that a daily driver could also be a weekend adventurer,” he said in his hiring announcement. “My task now is to balance the iconic design language of the past with all of the innovative possibilities that electrification unlocks. With the base of inspiration that Scout offers, what we’re dreaming up will be beyond special.”  

Photo Courtesy Scout Motors

In his interview with Automotive News, Keogh said the cars will be built on a novel platform, free of VW’s MEB platform. The SUV will come first. 

Some are wondering if Scout will adopt a Tesla-style sales approach. Tesla doesn’t have dealerships. They have retail spaces where you can see vehicle prototypes. All orders are online, and the car is delivered directly to a customer’s home. Scout wants to use a similar system. Several EV brands like Rivian, Lucid, and Polestar follow the Tesla sales model. 

Production of Scout vehicles is expected to start in 2026.  


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