Volkswagen puede traer de vuelta el Scout International Harvester

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Volkswagen insiders are considering building an all-electric off-roader to go up against the Wrangler and Bronco, and they want to call it the Scout, reviving the classic International Harvester Scout name for the first time in decades. Volkswagen Group of America Chief Operating Officer Johan De Nysschen floated the idea during a conversation with the media at a recent press event. De Nysschen noted the larger Volkswagen Group now owns the rights to the Scout name through its commercial truck division and recognized the heritage and brand equity the name carries with off-roaders.

With Volkswagen shifting its entire product line to electric vehicles, though, the reborn Scout wouldn’t be a photocopy of a Jeep Wrangler or a Ford Bronco, the old Scout’s direct competition. Instead, De Nysschen envisioned something like the upcoming Rivian R1S all-electric SUV, but «at a €40,000 price point instead of €70,000.»

VW owns Traton, Traton now owns Navistar, Navistar owns Scout. Having only sealed the deal a few months ago, though, any plan to build a new Scout would be in its infancy. This means it’s far too late for the Scout to be developed as an internal combustion vehicle as the VW Group is putting those out to pasture. All completely new VW products, under any brand name, will be EVs (existing internal combustion vehicles will continue to finish out their product cycles including any updates).

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

It’s possible «Scout» could be both the name of the brand and the vehicle and sold in standalone stores, as it seems an odd fit for Volkswagen dealerships. De Nysschen wants to capitalize on the heritage behind the name, and that’s hard to do if you put another brand’s logo on it. A standalone Scout brand would be expensive to start up, but collocating Scout dealerships with existing VW dealerships could save costs and get the infrastructure built quickly.

Volkswagen MEB platform 4

If VW were to build a new Scout EV, we think it’s likely the company would 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 in theory be fitted with a long-travel off-road suspension and topped with a boxy SUV body. Traction off-road could be handled by VW’s existing brake-based torque vectoring system (more likely), or engineers could attempt to fit locking differentials (more expensive and less likely).

Could this all just be one executive’s flight of fancy? We believe it’s a serious inquiry. Two other sources in Volkswagen Group of America have separately confirmed to MotorTrend that the company is interested in resurrecting the Scout name now that the merger is complete. Given the interest in off-roading, overlanding, and classic off-road vehicles right now (and the huge amounts of money in all three), it makes business sense.

In fact, future direct competitor Ford has shown the way with the Bronco and Mustang sub-brands, which lean hard into heritage to sell vehicles like the Mustang Mach-E and Bronco Sport. It’s something only brands with heritage names and products like that can do. VW can lean into its own heritage for a New Beetle or Microbus, and now thanks to this merger, it can do the same in a segment it never competed in before with the Scout. It’s a big leg up for VW over new EV startups and traditional competitors from Japan, Korea, and China.

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Whether or not VW goes through with it remains to be seen, and even if the company gets right on it, it will still be years before we see a Scout on the road. Regardless, we’re excited at the possibility and at the news VW appears to be taking this idea seriously.

Update: Volkswagen COO Johan de Nysschen reached out to clarify the brand’s position regarding a potential Scout revival:

«We will in the fullness of time switch 100% from ICE entries to EVs, and as the VW Group looks at its global product portfolio, this means that successors to popular models such as Atlas and our Amarok truck, will eventually be electrified. But to connect this pragmatically realistic perspective of the future, with the notion of launching a new product line under the Scout nameplate, is truly speculative and at this time, not reflective any plans, real or imagined. «

Juan Francisco Calero

Llevo ya casi 20 años trabajando para la industria del automóvil. Asesorando a docenas de empresas del sector en materia de comunicación y marketing. Linkedin