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The Inside Story of Bringing the Scout Brand Back

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Hi john mcelroy here talking all things automotive over the course of my career sometimes but not often i’ve been lucky enough to be allowed by a car company to go deep inside one of their new car programs years before that car goes on sale it’s been a great way for me to learn a lot about new car development but they only let me do it on the stipulation that i

Cannot use any of the information i learn until that vehicle is about to go on sale well last week i got to go deep inside much more than a new car program i got invited to go deep inside a whole new car company that company is scout the brand new battery electric startup that’s getting launched by a small number of gutsy executives from volkswagen of america i

Call them gutsy because there’s only seven of them and even though the volkswagen group is bankrolling them they had to resign from their jobs at volkswagen of america and go and start scout as a totally separate company that means they had to give up their company 401k savings plan their company health care benefits and even their company issued laptops so now

They are true entrepreneurs they got skin in the game if this fails they’re going to crash and burn but if they’re successful they will be compensated handsomely even though volkswagen only publicly announced the scout program in may of 2022 the work on this project actually started a year before that even so this small team already has accomplished a lot it

Shows the advantage of using a small commando-like cross-functional team to get things done quickly these execs brought me and about a half a dozen other hardcore scout fans in to show us what they’re doing and to get our reactions they showed us some concept models they showed us their branding ideas and they talked about how they’re putting the company together

All with the purpose of getting our feedback they showed us two full-size fully painted and beautifully turned out clay models of an suv and a pickup truck i can’t give you any more of the specifics of those vehicles but i can tell you that the scout aficionados like what they saw the team also created two short videos to establish what the brand is about the

Videos are essentially powerful emotional long format ads that are super bowl sunday ready you’ll get a lump in your throat watching them one ties into the heritage of the scout brand harking back to its roots when it was part of international harvester the agricultural equipment company it’s about farmland the heart of america hard-working people and the amazing

Technological creativity of the usa the other is called respect your mother it drives home an environmental message that will even resonate with people who sneer at treehuggers it’s about respect for the land respect for mother nature the scout team felt they had to develop this environmental message since its vehicles will be all electric and in today’s highly

Politicized world a good chunk of the car buying public are opposed to evs for political reasons even more there are a ton of scout fans out there who would love to get a v8 or even a diesel engine in a brand new scout so they need to understand why these vehicles will only be electric and then as the team dug into its market research they were surprised to see

How well the scout brand name scored with the public it turns out there’s a fairly significant and passionate group of scout aficionados dedicated to restoring old scouts and they know everything about them every nut bolt and washer every model and even every variation even more their research showed that a surprising number of americans have fond memories of the

Scout including generations of people who were born well after the last scout was built the team’s market research showed that the scout brand scored higher in sentimental feelings than vw’s own id buzz that cool looking eevee version of the old hippie van from a brand awareness standpoint the scout name even outscored rivian who knew that a red hot eevee startup

That’s gotten all kinds of media coverage just still is not not well known as a brand name that went out of production 42 years ago this is why the scout execs say they’re merely revitalizing the brand not reviving it because they say it never really went away they described their target customers as middle american in terms of psychographics culture and geography

Think levi’s and carhartt meet yeti and apple think americana now these magnificent seven have to figure out how to take their vision into production and onto the market they’re evaluating all kinds of alternatives and opportunities they know they’re not going to go with vw’s meb platform instead they’re going to go with a clean sheet design they might build their

Own assembly plant but they might also go with an asset light strategy and use a contract manufacturer maybe they’ll do an ipo to raise the money they need or maybe the vw group will decide to fund them itself nothing is nailed down yet but remember scout only became a company four months ago as of this recording and you know to me the most amazing part of this

Project is that it’s even happening at all something different is going on at volkswagen a company that is practically the poster child for corporate bureaucracy a company that historically has ignored what it would really take to succeed in the american market to me this is way more exciting than that porsche ipo this is a bold and ambitious plan that could help

Volkswagen reach the market share it should really have in the world’s second largest car market as well as pave the way for vw to become a nimbler and more entrepreneurial company now it’s up to the team of seven to execute their plan and grow the company it won’t be easy but at least they’re starting with a brand name that has the cachet to get the job done

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The Inside Story of Bringing the Scout Brand Back By Autoline Network