Volkswagen Group is reportedly considering reviving the Scout name for North America. Following the merger of trucking subsidiary Traton and Navistar in 2020, VW found itself in possession of the farm-focused International Harvester. While the brand technically hasn’t existed since 1985, the German company effectively owns its intellectual property — including the Scout name — and is keen to leverage some of its nostalgia for an alleged sub-brand specializing in sport utility vehicles.
According to reports from TechCrunch and The Wall Street Journal, Volkswagen has yet to make any final decisions. But the plan under review involves using the Scout title to underpin a lineup of electrified SUVs.
It makes sense. The formula has served Jeep exceptionally well and the brand now boasts the kind of international recognition other nameplates can only envy. SUV popularity has been swelling across the board since 2010. But extra-rugged utility vehicles (or crossovers that look like them) have grown even more desirable as the the state of world becomes less certain and road maintenance schedules appear to have been all but abandoned in some regions. We may not end up occupying the Mad Max universe. However, there are plenty of people hedging their bets as finances tighten and spending their hard-earned cash on vehicles they believe are rugged enough to get them through tougher times.
But we’ve yet to see whether all-electric pickups and utility vehicles will get the kind of love from the public required to make VW’s scheme effective. Jeep owners are fanatical (especially if they’re the kind of owner that actually abuses their ride off-road) and the enthusiasm is nearly as staunch for the Toyota 4Runner, Suzuki Jiminy, Land Rover Defender, and any number of similarly iconic pickups sold with extra-groovy tires. These will be exceptionally difficult models to fundamentally change via electrified powertrains and the entire industry is attempting to figure out how best to manage that.
By leveraging International Harvester’s Scout, VW knows it’s getting some cultural cachet thanks to the brand having a historic position in the modernization of the sport utility vehicle and pickup truck. That might contribute toward encouraging the public that the resulting Scout products have something behind them, regardless of what’s beneath the sheet metal. It’s the same reason Ford kept the Lightning’s design so close to the gas-powered F-150 and GMC’s chosen EV carries the Hummer name.
Volkswagen’s plan involves selling an electric SUV and pickup using the same platform, similar to how Rivian does its R1T and R1S. The automaker’s board of directors is expected to approve the new brand this week.
VW has previously tried to break out of its niche to become a more significant brand in the U.S. Although it is the world’s second-largest auto maker by sales behind Toyota Motor Corp. , it commands a market share of less than 5 [percent] in the U.S.
Despite this modest footprint, VW’s electric vehicles are selling faster than its conventional cars in the U.S. VW said it has around 8 [percent] of the U.S. EV market, second behind Tesla Inc.
“So, the focus will clearly be on electric cars, which we see as a historic chance to gain market share in the United States,” VW CEO Herbert Diess told reporters on a recent earnings call.
If the plan comes together, it’s assumed that production facilities would be based in North America — likely near its current manufacturing hub in Chattanooga, TN. Initial investments are slated to be in excess of $1 billion just to get the ball rolling. From there, it’s assumed that the German automaker will seek additional financing from outside investors and may even put Scout on the stock exchange.
There’s no real information about the vehicles themselves, however. Rumors have suggested Scout would avoid building anything smaller than the Volkswagen Atlas and that VW and that there may actually be a size difference between the pickup and SUV. While it seems a little early to assume anything, we’d look to Rivian for guidance because that seems to be the brand that’s being targeted here.
[Images: Simone Hogan/Shutterstock]
Become a TTAC insider. Get the latest news, features, TTAC takes, and everything else that gets to the truth about cars first by subscribing to our newsletter.