Volkswagen appears to be moving ahead with its plan to build an electric SUV and pickup truck under the Scout brand it inherited when it bought the successor to International Harvester. IH is the company which built the original Scout in the 60s. According to a report from Automobilwoche (paywall) that was picked up by Autoblog, sources within Volkswagen are saying the company is in talks with Foxconn about building the Scout vehicles on a contract basis.
Volkswagen said in May it planned to re-introduce the Scout off-road brand and create an independent company to build Scout-branded trucks and SUVs starting in 2026. Those vehicles will be designed, engineered, and manufactured in the United States for US customers.
If you have been reading the news lately, you will know that Taiwan’s Foxconn, best known for manufacturing the iPhone for Apple and screwing Wisconsin residents out of millions of dollars after its plan to build a touchscreen factory in the Badger State turned to dust, has been getting a lot of press lately as it attempts to pivot to being a contract assembler for car companies.
It bills itself as an equal opportunity manufacturer. If you have a product that needs assembling, Foxconn will be happy to do it for you. In October it said it wanted to build automobiles for Tesla one day and anyone else looking to offload the burden of manufacturing onto its broad shoulders. Earlier this month it announced a deal with the Saudi Arabia sovereign wealth fund to build cars in that country.
And where would Foxconn build these Scout vehicles? No one knows for sure, but a good guess would be in the former General Motors Lordstown factory which it bought from GM in 2019. It is already producing electric farm tractors there and is also starting production of the Endurance electric pickup truck. Lordstown is a huge facility with plenty of extra manufacturing space.
If Volkswagen is looking to Foxconn to build its Scout vehicles, it clearly is anticipating a relatively low demand for them. These will be specialty vehicles that may sell around 50,000 units a year — far less than would justify constructing a dedicated factory to manufacture them.
Automobilwoche also says Volkswagen has broached the idea of manufacturing its Scout-branded vehicles with Magna Steyer, a well known assembler that builds vehicles for a number of clients, including the Jaguar I-Pace. It is a subsidiary of Magna International and is interested in building a factory in the United States. Well, everyone is looking to build electric car, solar panel, and battery factories in the United States because of the substantial incentives provided by the Inflation Reduction Act.
The Scout vehicles may be low volume products for Volkswagen, but getting the contract to build them would be a feather in Foxconn’s cap as it goes looking for ways to maximize its utilization of the Lordstown facility. Good for Volkswagen and good for Foxconn, in other words. And of course it would satisfy the provisions of the new EV federal tax credit which require all qualified vehicles to be finally assembled in the US and use properly sourced battery materials and components. This sounds like a marriage made in heaven.
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