Volkswagen Plans To Bring Back The Scout As An Electric SUV

VW is poised to take on the pickup and SUV American market with a reimagined all-electric version of the Scout. The company confirmed via Twitter its plan, previously revealed by sources to TechCrunch and The Washington Post. To manufacture the new off-road vehicles VW would create the Scout brand, which will operate in the U.S. as a new company.  VW has insisted that the vehicles will be "designed, engineered, and manufactured in the U.S., for American customers".

The company has been aggressively investing to expand its presence in North America with its new EV line-up. Competing hard against Tesla, VW is already investing $7.1 billion in a U.S. plant where it will manufacture an American version of the ID.Buzz, a modern update of the VW iconic bus (via Nasdaq).  

VW has also been paying close attention to the U.S. segment, and following the growing demand for EV pickups, trucks, and SUVs. The Ford F-150 Lightning, another reimagined classic, sold out even before production began. The GMC Hummer EV also sold out fast, per Reuters, and the delayed Tesla Cybertruck (not expected to be released anytime soon) had more than 1.25 million pre-orders in 2021, Inside EVs reports. Other brands appealing to the trend, like Rivian, while struggling to keep up with demands, are becoming increasingly popular. "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," Herbert Diess, Volkswagen CEO, said.

The history and future of the Scout

Why would VW create a separate brand, and not build the truck they want, using their VW logo? The Volkswagen Group is extremely experienced in managing different brands: by 2022, they run nine car brands — VW, VW Commercial Vehicles, Skoda, Seat, Cupra, Audi, Lamborghini, and Bentley — as well as the premium motorcycle brand Ducati. But the real reason, in this case, is the history of the Scout nameplate and, specifically, how it appeals to U.S. drivers. The Scout was produced from the 1960s to the 1980s, competing with the classic Jeep Willys and the Ford Bronco, two brands selling well in their updated modern versions.

Built by the agricultural company International Harvester — a pioneer and leader in machinery for U.S. farms, construction, trucks, and even U.S. military vehicles — the Scout had a four-wheel drive, a rural and off-road look, stripped-down interior, rugged exterior, and powerful engines with versions fitted with turbocharged V8s. In total, more than half a million Scouts were produced, per HIConsumption.

In 2021, as reported by Motor Trend, the Volkswagen Group of America Chief Operating Officer, Johan De Nysschen, spoke to the press about the idea of bringing back the Scout as an electric vehicle. De Nysschen added that VW owned the rights to the Scout name through its truck division. Based on the strategy VW took when updating the classic VW bus, another stripped-down adventure vehicle, the new Scout exterior will be stylized but remain recognizable, its all-electric engine will be maximized for power and range, and the interior will be modern, luxurious, and woven by technology. According to The Washington Post VW plans to sell at least 250,000 Scouts every year in the U.S., and VW confirmed the first models will roll off the line in 2026, with prototypes to be shown off in 2023.