Volkswagen could revive Scout name for electric SUV
Volkswagen insiders plan to build an all-electric off-roader to take on the Wrangler and Bronco, and they want to call it the Scout, reviving the classic name International Harvester Scout for the first time in decades. Volkswagen Group of America COO Johan De Nysschen pitched the idea during a media chat at a recent press event. De Nysschen noted that the larger Volkswagen Group now owns the rights to the Scout name through its commercial truck division and has recognized the heritage and brand value the name carries with off-road vehicles.
With Volkswagen shifting its entire product line to electric vehicles, however, the reborn Scout wouldn’t be a photocopy of a Jeep Wrangler or Ford Bronco, direct competition from the old Scout. Instead, De Nysschen envisioned something like the next all-electric Rivian R1S SUV, but “priced at $ 40,000 instead of $ 70,000.”
Such a plan makes even more sense when you consider the timeline. Volkswagen only recently took control of the Scout name when its commercial truck subsidiary, Traton, merged with Navistar in July 2021. Navistar is the company that was formed during the bankruptcy of International Harvester in 1985 and continues to operate. own the Scout mark for “Land Vehicles on Gross Vehicle Weight (GVWR) of 2400 pounds, cleared for use on public roads, highways as well as off-road use, namely, light trucks excluding fire trucks, such as pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles, medium trucks and heavy duty or professional trucks. “
VW owns Traton, Traton now owns Navistar, Navistar owns Scout. However, having only concluded the deal a few months ago, any plans to build a new Scout would be in its infancy. This means that it is far too late for the Scout to be developed as an internal combustion vehicle, as the VW Group is putting them on pasture. All completely new VW products, under any brand, will be electric vehicles (existing internal combustion vehicles will continue to complete their product cycles, including updates).
The brand under which the Scout will fall remains a mystery. De Nysschen didn’t say it, but we know it would be difficult to use the name of International Harvester. Case IH purchased the International Harvester name in 1985 when the company was disbanded and the remains became Navistar and still owns that brand name today. Although Case IH does not have a specific brand for road vehicles, it is likely that the company would object to Volkswagen using the International Harvester name even if it no longer owns the Scout name. Volkswagen will either have to enter into a licensing agreement with Case IH or build the Scout under a different brand name.
It is possible that “Scout” is both the name of the brand and the vehicle and sold in standalone stores, as this seems like an odd fix for Volkswagen dealers. De Nysschen wants to capitalize on the heritage behind the name, and that’s hard to do if you put another brand’s logo on it. A stand-alone Scout brand would be expensive to start up, but co-locating Scout dealerships with existing VW dealers could reduce costs and build infrastructure quickly.
If VW were to build a new Scout EV, we think it’s likely the company would use a highly modified version of its MEB electric vehicle platform. Already designed to offer all-wheel drive via electric motors mounted at the front and rear, it could in theory be fitted with a long-travel all-terrain suspension and topped with a boxy SUV body. Off-road traction could be handled by VW’s brake-based torque vectoring system (more likely), or engineers could attempt to fit lockable differentials (more expensive and less likely).
Could all of this be just a fancy of a frame? We believe this is a serious investigation. Two other Volkswagen Group sources in America have separately confirmed to MotorTrend that the company is interested in resurrecting the Scout name now that the merger is complete. Given the current interest in off-roaders, landing gear, and classic off-roaders (and huge sums of money in all three), this makes business sense.
In fact, future direct competitor Ford has led the way with the Bronco and Mustang sub-brands, which rely heavily on heritage to sell vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E and Bronco Sport. It’s something only brands with heritage names and products like this can do. VW can build on its own heritage for a New Beetle or a Microbus, and now, thanks to this merger, it can do the same in a segment in which it has never competed with the Scout before. This is a big step ahead for VW compared to new electric vehicle startups and traditional competitors from Japan, Korea and China.
It remains to be seen whether VW will go all the way, and even if the company tackles it, it will be years before we see a Scout on the road. Either way, we’re excited about the possibility and New VW seems to be taking this idea seriously.