New Scouts Will Be Built In America For The First Time Since 1980, Thanks To Volkswagen

Scout is a bit of an oddball among the many storied brands now owned by the Volkswagen Group. Originally built by farm equipment giant International Harvester, Scout was dedicated to out-Jeeping Jeep, building true off-road monsters designed from the tires up to eat mud, thrash through thick brush, and generally carry exploration-minded drivers through the wilderness with maximum horsepower.

Economically speaking, Scout zigged when it should have zagged. Built from 1961 to 1980, Scout doubled down on its off-road offer in later years, according to Hi Consumption. At the same time, contemporaries like Jeep and Land Rover were turning their gaze toward 4x4s equally at home, on the street, or in the bush. However, Scout stuck to its guns, which ultimately led to it being edged out of the market.

For fans of the old-school outdoor brand, however, Volkswagen brings good news. The company plans to restart the Scout brand with an intriguing twist: Scout will be American-made and all electric. Volkswagen has bet heavily on the future electrification of the car marketplace, and a dedicated brand for electric off-road and work vehicles may represent a key component of that strategy.

[Featured image by Thomas Vogt via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 2.0]

Recharging an off-roading legacy

Volkswagen has been planning to restart the Scout brand as a maker of all-electric trucks and SUVs for almost a year. The company's May 11 press release quotes then-chairman Herbert Diess:

"Electrification provides a historic opportunity to now enter the highly attractive pick-up and R-SUV segment as a Group, underscoring our ambition to become a relevant player in the U.S. market."

The release also confirms Volkswagen's intent to have its Scout vehicles designed and built entirely within the U.S. According to German-language industry periodical Automobilwoche (per Reuters), Volkswagen intends to go it alone after unsuccessful talks with manufacturers Foxconn and Magna Steyr on a possible partnership. VW's current plan is to build its own plant and set up Scout as an independent U.S.-based company, with its first vehicles ready for the road by 2026.

Given such a distant deadline, few details are known regarding Scout's actual product line. Thus far, all Volkswagen has confirmed is that they will be built on a brand-new battery-electric platform, rather than iterating on another build owned by VW. That's consistent with Volkswagen's ambitious electrification plans. If Scout can deliver the promised electric pickups and rugged SUVs, the brand could represent a major force in electrifying the vehicle marketplace.

[Featured image by Mr.choppers via Wikimedia Commons | Cropped and scaled | CC BY-SA 3.0]