German automakers seem to have a penchant for reviving nameplates of yesteryear. Some attempts exceeded expectations (BMWvacation MINI), while others fell short (short time Maybach as a separate offering).
The latest attempt is already approaching and comes from the Volkswagen Group. The Scout brand will be a vital element of the automotive conglomerate’s ambitions to lead the electric vehicle space while building a larger footprint in North America. But what is the Scout’s story, and why did VW choose it to launch an all-electric assault on the American SUV and pickup market?
Volkswagen Group Strategy’s Heika Perlik and Chong Li discuss the reasons for the name’s return while driving one of the latest Scouts built, International Harvester Scout IIaround the landfill.
Like the original Mini, which was last sold with the Rover badge before being spun off into its own brand, the Scout was a model sold by the American International Harvester Company.
IH ceased production of cars in the 1980s, while its truck division produces vehicles under the International brand as part of the Navistar holding company. Navistar was acquired by Volkswagen in 2020, and with it came the rights to the Scout nameplate.
American brand for American sales
Volkswagen aims to capture at least 10 percent of the U.S. auto market, and according to Lee, trucks and SUVs are a critical element of that ambition. So, after much deliberation, the board decided to go all-in on the Scout revival. Lee says it’s a very American brand, and Perlick points out that Scout has a big fan base.
Read: Dealers are waiting for answers from VW about the Scout brand
However, being dead for more than four decades, we wonder how much this International Harvester Scout nostalgia will affect potential customers looking for an electric SUV or truck. Still, with models like the Bronco and Defender proving popular, the potential is clearly there.
The first models in 2026
With the first concepts to be revealed next year, before the final market launch in 2026, we have some time before we get behind the wheel of the new Scout. However, the pieces are gradually falling into place for an entirely new brand.
Former Volkswagen Group of America President and CEO and Volkswagen North American CEO Scott Keough appointed Chief Executive Officer of Scout. Additionally, we’re told the first hires for the Scout brand are imminent.
But with stiff competition from the likes of Ford, Chevrolet and Rivian (not to mention Tesla’s upcoming Cybertruck), will nostalgia alone be enough to sway buyers to buy from the reincarnated brand?