All of which gives Audi another opportunity to benefit from Scout’s platform development as well as an incremental increase in volume production in North America.
Audi has long underperformed in North America in comparison with rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. A rough and ready SUV or even an Audi pickup truck would do much to expand the brand’s product line into areas not occupied by Audi’s rivals. If Audi were to produce a ladder-framed, all-electric SUV on contract in the US, it could introduce a direct competitor to Mercedes-Benz’s Geländewagen, a vehicle able to compete in the most rugged terrain there is. Moreover, the Audi EV would be launched as an all electric, all-terrain vehicle, beating the all-electric version of the G-Class to market. Most of all, Audi is already tasked with supporting Magna in the development of Scout’s battery technology and electronic architecture. Under Audi’s guidance, Volkswagen Group modules and sub-assemblies are to be integrated into the new Scout products during the design and build phases of the project. It was not lost on the board that Magna already builds the Geländewagen for Mercedes-Benz in Graz, Austria.
Including an Audi product run of a speculative 50,000 units on top of the 100,000 units of volume expected for Scout would theoretically reduce the per-unit build cost for each of the brands. Having an Audi SUV built in the same facility as Scout would complicate the Volkswagen Group’s relationship with its dealers. As previously reported, Volkswagen dealers’ desire for a pickup truck to sell has been thwarted by the manufacturer’s insistence that Scout is a separate brand.
Adding an Audi SUV to Scout’s production run would undercut that argument. Even so, adding an Audi product to Scout’s production contract is an idea gaining traction in Wolfsburg, and under serious consideration by the board. Audi supports the idea, provided Magna gets the contract. A Foxconn award would be likely to mean Scout would go it alone and provide proof that Foxconn can meet the proper build quality standards.
As things stand, much of the board is predisposed to awarding Magna the contract to build Scout in the US – and, by extension, a new Audi model. But time grows short if Keogh’s promise of a 2026 debut for an all-new, all-electric Scout is to be kept. That would require a decision to be made in January. Can the Volkswagen supervisory board come together that quickly? Audi, along with the rest of us, should soon find out.