The Volkswagen Group has announced that it is reviving the Scout brand in an attempt to capture a greater share of the recreational truck segment in the USA, where VW has a relatively small sales footprint.
Wait, What? Most Singaporeans will have no clue what the Scout is, but that’s understandable as it was an American domestic automaker that saw little in the way of exports.
Officially, the parent company of Scout SUVs was International Harvester, an American manufacturer of agricultural and construction equipment.
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A contemporary and competitor to the early civilian Jeeps, the last International Harvester Scout rolled off the assembly lines in 1980 and the brand was eventually consigned to oblivion, until Volkswagen purchased rights to the Scout badge with a 2021 deal for Navistar International. Navistar was created in 1985 when International Harvester, which owned the Scout brand, folded.
There are plans afoot to introduce a completely new electric SUV and electric pickup truck with Scout branding, the Volkswagen Group confirmed last week. For now, it seems that Scout will operate as a separate unit of the Volkswagen Group in America, alongside the company’s other brands. There are no plans to promote the Scout brand outside of America yet.
The initial investment into relaunching the heritage brand is said to be in the region of US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion), with more investors set to be roped in when the project gains momentum.
These days the Scout brand is remembered fondly only by offroad vehicle heritage enthusiasts, but in its heyday of the 1960s and 70s the cars where offroad capable and comfortable for their time. In the time of open top Jeeps, and with cars like the Toyota Land Cruiser and Ford Explorer still years away, the 1965 Scout 800 is seen in hindsight as the probably the first real SUV.
The Volkswagen Group has almost no presence in the recreational light truck segment in America, which is now among the US car industry’s most profitable vehicles, with a healthy industry in offroad aftermarket accessories in tow.
Lifestyle trucks like the Ford Ranger, Jeep Gladiator, along with rugged, easily modified SUVs like the Jeep Wrangler are strong sellers for which the VW Group has nothing to answer with.
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While its early days yet and there has been no reveal on what platform the new electrified Scout will actually be built on, there’s a chance that a modified version of the Volkswagen ID.6, a China-only SUV, could form the basis of the Scout truck and SUVs.
VW has stated that it is targeting sales of up to 250,000 Scout-branded models annually in the USA, with output slated to begin in 2026.
This article was first published in CarBuyer.