It’s no secret that electric vehicles are the future, but electric trucks and SUVs, in particular, are a quickly growing category. Upstarts like Rivian are producing rugged battery-powered vehicles, GM’s Hummer brand is returning as an EV, and now another player with a familiar name is about to enter the space: the Scout—resurrected as an electric SUV and truck. Volkswagen announced this week that it plans to launch an all-new electric vehicle brand using the name and heritage of the legendary International Harvester Scout trucks.
According to a Volkswagen press release, the new Scouts will be designed, engineered, and produced in the U.S. for the American market. Although controlled by its German parent, Scout will be a separate brand from VW. The automaker has only released renderings of the new vehicles (an SUV and a pickup), but as you’d expect, they bear a strong resemblance to the boxy shape of the original Scout.
The new trucks will be built using an entirely new EV base platform, and VW expects to unveil the first prototypes next year. The first EV Scouts will start rolling off the assembly line in 2026—well over 40 years after the last internal combustion Scouts left the International Harvester factory.
So why all the buzz? The Scout is a vaunted model among off-roaders, and it has a long history in the American truck market. The original Scout was introduced for the 1961 model year. It was a simple, rugged 4×4 designed to compete with the Willys Jeep, one of the few four-wheel-drive utility vehicles available in the civilian market at the time. The first-generation Scout was designed to be as versatile as possible, thanks to features like a removable top and a fold-down windshield—and it was produced mainly in a wagon body style.
Although various engine and transmission combos were offered over its lengthy production run (it was produced until the 1980 model year), the Scout always featured the dependable combo of transfer case-driven four-wheel drive and solid axles, which gave it excellent performance off the pavement.
With its boxy look and off-road chops, the Scout helped define the 4×4 category as we know it today—and that means the new Scouts will have big shoes to fill. But with electric SUVs already hitting the road (both paved and unpaved), the Scout might once again have the chance to pioneer the future of 4x4s.
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