Volkswagen Group AG announced changes in its North American leadership team as it launches its new Scout EV brand.
Scout, an independent corporation being formed in the United States, named Scott Keogh, president and CEO of Volkswagen Group of America, as its President and CEO. Keogh will focus solely on the development and growth of VW’s new Scout EV line.
Volkswagen Group of America will now be led by Pablo Di Si, executive chairman of Volkswagen South American Region, who will also serve as CEO of Volkswagen North American Region. His successor at Volkswagen South America will be announced by the company at a later date.
The changes take effect Sept. 1.
“Scott Keogh and Pablo Di Si both have played key roles in turning around the businesses in their respective regions, North America and South America,” said Volkswagen Group CEO Herbert Diess, in a statement. “In their future positions, they will be pivotal in helping the Group seize the historic market opportunities in the U.S., taking our growth strategy in the region to the next level.”
For EVs, brand names matter
For Keough, the change comes as Volkswagen is seeking to establish a new line of battery electric vehicles.
“It shows it has faith in him to bring what would be one of the most important product launches to Volkswagen in 50 years,” said Sam Fiorani, vice president, Global Vehicle Forecasting at AutoForecast Solutions LLC. Volkswagen has struggled to establish EV cache with its ID sub-brand, just as General Motors has with its Chevrolet Bolt.
“Nobody has the cachet to transform themselves from ICE to EV simply by electrifying their vehicles,” Fiorani said.
“The ID group of vehicles are just electric Volkswagens, and the problem with breaking into the EV market is you have to bring something more than just electrification. Tesla has its aura around Tesla, but not many of the other manufacturers have brought anything beyond simply electrifying their vehicles. That’s why you need to bring along a legendary name like Mustang, like Hummer and potentially, like Scout.”
The return of an iconic brand
Volkswagen is reviving the Scout name for an all-electric truck and SUV for the U.S. with the first deliveries expected to arrive in 2026. The new Scouts will be designed, engineered and built in the U.S. for American consumers.
The Scout name was first used by International Harvester for its 1961 International Scout SUV, and it competed with the Jeep CJ and Ford Bronco. The model survived until 1980.
International Harvester dates to 1902, when McCormick Co. — inventor of the farm reaper — merged with Deering Milken and three other companies to form the new organization with the help from the House of Morgan.
The new company produced International farm trucks, highway trucks and Farmall farm tractors. By 1909, International Harvester was the fourth largest industrial company in America, building 1-ton trucks, among other products. It entered the half-ton market in 1932 with the International D-1, and the company would field a series of models for the next three decades.
Yet IHC lost its way after World War II, and was surpassed by Deere & Co. in 1958. But the company released the Scout for 1961, and it was offered as a wagon, pickup or convertible with two-wheel or four-wheel drive. The Scout II following 10 years later.
But by this point, International was struggling with a high debt burden and poor management. In 1975, International ended its light truck production with the exception of the Scout, which lingered until 1980, unable to survive the dual impact of the second OPEC Oil Embargo ad a damaging UAW strike.
But International’s other lines saw falling sales as well. Reorganizing in 1986, IHC sold its farm tractor to business to Tenneco, which formed CNH Industrial N.V. The firm is owned by Exor, the Agnelli family’s holding company that also holds a substantial stake in Stellantis.
International truck operations continued under the new corporate name Navistar.
In 2020, Volkswagen Group acquired Navistar International for $3.7 billion in deal through its heavy-truck unit, Traton, inheriting the Scout name as part of the transaction.
A trusted executive at the helm
In 2006, Keogh joined the Volkswagen Group as Chief Marketing Officer at Audi of America, Inc. after beginning his career in 1995 with Mercedes-Benz USA as general manager of marketing communications.
He was appointed President and CEO of Audi of America in 2012. The year 2018 saw Scott Keogh appointed head of the Volkswagen brand in North America and president and chief executive officer of the Volkswagen Group of America.
Keogh oversaw the company’s first profitable period in years and had a key role in the introduction of the VW ID.4, ID. Buzz, and Audi e-tron to the North American market.