Volkswagen Poaches Stellantis' Chris Benjamin To Lead Scout Brand's Design

Chris Benjamin to lead Scout brand's design 7 photos
Photo: Scout | collage
Scout logoScout teaserScout teaserScout's factory in South CarolinaScout teaserChris Benjamin to lead Scout brand's design
Scout Motors, Volkswagen's North American startup, is speeding up the development of its upcoming electric vehicles, planned to start deliveries in 2026. The brand announced that the design of the future rugged EVs would be penned by Chris Benjamin, who previously designed the interiors of Jeep and Ram off-roaders.
When Volkswagen bought Navistar International in 2020 via its Traton truck unit, the Scout brand landed in its yard. Although previous efforts to build a true off-roader did not impress, Volkswagen thought reviving Scout would give it at least a desirable brand to build on in the US. The official announcement was made in May 2022, and from there, things accelerated quickly.

Scout is poised to become Volkswagen's spearhead in conquering both the US EV market and the adventure-conscious crowd. Volkswagen announced that Scout would build electric vehicles exclusively, with a pickup truck and an SUV with off-road capabilities as its first models. With this move, Volkswagen is targeting Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, and Rivian R1T/R1S customers while also trying to have a leg in the electric pickup truck segment.

The initial plans were for Scout to function as a startup within Volkswagen, making its own decisions and having a dedicated production facility in North America. The Scout EVs would not have anything in common with any of Volkswagen's EVs and instead would develop its own EV platform. After all, Volkswagen lacks a rugged EV architecture to support an electric off-roader. Everybody wondered what Volkswagen would do about that, especially as its partner Ford announced a second electric pickup truck in the lineup.

Unfortunately, Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess was unexpectedly ousted, and the new CEO Oliver Blume needed time to prioritize before making decisions about Scout. The good news is that the project is still on the fast track, although plans have changed twice since then. Soon after he was appointed, Blume wanted Scout EVs to be assembled by a third-party contractor, and Foxconn and Magna Steyr were among the favorites. But then the Inflation Reduction Act arrived, and plans changed again so that Scout would get its own factory in South Carolina.

Production is still scheduled for 2026, but Scout is running out of time to develop the upcoming EVs. That's why our bets are on strengthening the relationship with Ford and using its TE1 electric truck platform designed for its next-generation F-Series Lightning, Ranger Lightning, and Bronco Lightning. Ford recently announced building a second electric pickup truck beside the F-150 Lightning, which could serve as the base for the Scout pickup.

Volkswagen is at least on time with the Scout EVs' design, as it just announced a new Chief Design Officer for the Scout brand. His name is Chris Benjamin, and he previously led interior design at Stellantis North America, including for off-roaders built under Jeep and Ram brands. From his position, Chris Benjamin will oversee interior and exterior design, concept development, user experience, and overall design and technology integration in Scout Motors products.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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