Volkswagen may revive the Scout name for its electric SUV

Volkswagen insiders are considering building an all-electric off-road vehicle to take on the Wrangler and Bronco, and want to call it the Scout, reviving the international Harvest Scout name for the first time in decades. Volkswagen Group Chief Operating Officer Johan de Nischen brought up the idea during a conversation with the media 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 acknowledged the heritage and ownership rights that the name holds with off-road drivers.

With Volkswagen switching its entire production line to electric vehicles, the reborn Scout won’t be a pictured version of the Jeep Wrangler or the Ford Bronco, the direct competition to the old Scout. Instead, De Nysschen envisioned something like the Rivian R1S SUV, but at $40K instead of $70K.

This plan makes more sense when looking at the schedule. Volkswagen recently came to dominate the Scout name when its commercial truck subsidiary, Traton, merged with Navistar in July 2021. Navistar is the company that was created when it entered International Harvester in 1985 and still owns the Scout brand for “ground vehicles above 2,400 lbs.” of Gross Vehicle Weight (GVW), licensed for use on public streets and highways as well as for off-road use, i.e. light-duty trucks excluding fire trucks, such as pickup trucks, SUVs, mid-size trucks, severe service or professional trucks.”

Volkswagen owns the Traton, the Traton now owns the Navistar, the Navistar owns the Scout. After the deal was struck just a few months ago, though, any plan to build a new scout would be in its infancy. This means that it is too late to develop the Scout as an internal combustion car as VW Group is putting them on pastures. All brand new Volkswagen products, under any brand name, will be electric vehicles (existing internal combustion vehicles will continue to finish their product cycles including any updates).

What brand the Scouts will fall under is still a mystery. De Nysschen didn’t say, but we know it would be difficult to use the name International Harvester. Case IH purchased the International Harvester name in 1985 as the company was disbanded and the remains turned into Navistar and still owns that brand name today. Although Case IH doesn’t have a specific road vehicle brand, the company will likely object to Volkswagen’s use of the International Harvester name even if it doesn’t own the Scout name anymore. Volkswagen will either need to reach a licensing agreement with Case IH or build the Scout under a different brand name.

It is possible that “Scout” is the brand and vehicle name and is sold in independent stores, where it appears appropriate for Volkswagen dealerships. De Nysschen wants to capitalize on the heritage behind the name, and that’s tough if you put another brand’s logo on it. An independent Scout brand can be costly to start with, but grouping Scout dealers with existing VW dealers can save costs and build infrastructure quickly.

If Volkswagen were to build a new Scout EV, we think the company will likely use a highly modified version of its MEB electric vehicle platform. Already designed to offer all-wheel drive via front- and rear-mounted electric motors, it could theoretically be fitted with off-road suspension for long distances and topped with a boxy SUV chassis. Off-road traction can be handled with a (most likely) VW brake-based torque vectoring system, or engineers can try installing a (more expensive and less likely) locking differential.

Could all of this be just a fancy executive flight? We think it’s a serious investigation. Two other sources at US Volkswagen Group have separately confirmed to MotorTrend that the company is interested in reviving the Scout name now that the merger is complete. Considering the interest in ATVs, ATVs, and ATVs at the moment (and huge amounts of money in all three of those vehicles), it makes business sense.

In fact, future direct competitor Ford has shown the way with the Bronco and Mustang sub-brands, which lean heavily on heritage to sell cars like the Mustang Mach-E and Bronco Sport. It’s something only heritage-name brands and similar products can do. Volkswagen can draw on its own heritage for a new Beetle or microbus, and now thanks to this merger, it can do the same in a sector where it has never before competed with the Scouts. It’s a big step up for VW over new emerging electric companies and traditional competitors from Japan, Korea and China.

It remains to be seen whether or not Volkswagen is going into it, and even if the company is doing right, it will be years before we see scouts on the road. Regardless, we’re excited about the prospect and in the news Volkswagen seems to be taking this idea seriously.

Update: Johan de Nischen, COO of Volkswagen, reached out to clarify the brand’s position regarding a possible Scout revival:

“We will eventually be switching 100% of ICE entries into EVs, and as the VW Group looks at its global product portfolio, this means that the successors to popular models like the Atlas and our Amarok truck, will eventually be electrified. But connecting this realistic, real-world perspective For the future, with the idea of ​​launching a new product line under the Scout board, is really speculative and at this time does not reflect any plans, real or imagined.”

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