By Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business
The Scout, a one-time competitor to Ford Broncos and Jeeps that was last sold more than four decades ago, is being resurrected by Volkswagen as a line of all-electric trucks and SUVs.
Scout will become its own separate brand offering off-road-oriented electric trucks and SUVs in North America. A Scout SUV and pickup truck are expected to go on sale around 2026.
“The vehicles will be designed, engineered, and manufactured in the U.S. for American customers,” the company said in a statement. “To this end, a separate, independent company will be established in the U.S. this year as the Volkswagen Group moves the strong iconic U.S.-brand Scout into the electric vehicle space.”
The first prototypes are set to be unveiled next year, the company added.
The Scout brand “will be a separate unit and brand within the Volkswagen Group to be managed independently,” Volkswagen CFO Arno Antlitz added in the statement.
The boxy Scout SUV was originally the product of International Harvester, a brand better known for farm equipment and commercial trucks. The Scout, produced from 1961 to 1980, was the truck-maker’s foray into the passenger vehicle market. The term “sport-utility vehicle” didn’t exist at the time, but the Scout helped define what would become the SUV market segment. It was also available as a pickup during that time.
It was originally seen as a competitor to the Jeep CJ, the predecessor of today’s Jeep Wrangler. In 1965, Ford came out with the Bronco, its own competitor in this new vehicle segment. The Wrangler is now the core model of the Jeep brand, considered to be one of the world’s most valuable passenger vehicle brands. Ford recently reintroduced the Bronco brand on two new SUVs that have become major sellers. In a recent month, Ford sold nearly as many of the small Bronco Sport as it did of the popular Escape crossover SUV.
Classic SUVs, like the old Broncos, Jeeps and Scouts have become popular with car collectors in recent years, keeping their names and images in the public consciousness. Original Scout models have increased 43% in value since 2020, according to Hagerty, a company that tracks collector vehicle values. Values of later Scout II SUVs, a version produced after 1971, have increased by 48%.
International Harvester reorganized its truck business under the name Navistar in 1986. In 2021, Traton Group, a commercial vehicle subsidiary of Volkswagen Group purchased Navistar and, with it, obtained the rights to the defunct Scout brand.
Volkswagen has been shifting aggressively to electric vehicles ever since its embarrassing diesel emissions cheating scandal of 2015. The company has been rolling out electric Audi, Porsche and Volkswagen models among others. Soaring demand for electric vehicles has caused VW to run out of EVs to sell in key markets.
Volkswagen and other automakers are relying on well-loved brands, once associated with gasoline cars and trucks, to bring new customers to electric vehicles. Ford’s first electric-only model, an SUV, carries the Mustang name and pony badge. General Motors recently brought back the Hummer name on a new GMC Hummer EV electric truck. Volkswagen itself is re-introducing the beloved VW microbus as the electric ID.Buzz.
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