This Classic Car Brand Is Coming Back Electric Courtesy of VW

Scout 1962

Scout 1962 by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

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Scout 1962
Scout 1962 by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)
1950 International Harvester Pick-Up
1950 International Harvester Pick-Up by Greg Gjerdingen (CC BY)

International Harvester Branches Out

International Harvester — long known for its farm equipment — started making light trucks in the early 1900s, including “several impressively rugged vehicles” for the U.S. military, notes, a men's lifestyle site. Its Travelall model — launched in 1953 to compete with the Chevy Suburban — was a hulking hauler that could carry two to eight people, depending on the seating configuration.

Related:32 Most Reliable Trucks of All Time

Scout 80 1961
Scout 80 1961 by dave_7 (CC BY)

The Scout Is Born

The Travelall led to the Scout 80 in 1961, a smaller, versatile vehicle available in several configurations. Motor Trend says early Scout advertising pitched it as a “quick-change artist. … It’s a station wagon, a convertible, a light-duty hauler, a runabout … like having four vehicles for the price of one!”

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International Harvester
International Harvester by Joost J. Bakker (CC BY)

Designed for Farm and Field

The Scout was mainly designed for the same folks who bought other International Harvester products — farmers and ranchers who needed a rugged vehicle that could go almost anywhere. “Scout” was the original design project’s nickname, the Springfield (Ohio) News-Sun says, quoting the book “International Truck Color History.”

Off to a Hot Start

Off to a Hot Start

Shortly after production began at a Fort Wayne, Indiana, assembly plant, demand had become large enough to add a second shift, the Springfield New-Sun says. By the end of the year, 35,000 Scouts had been made, more than any vehicle in IH’s history.

Ford Bronco
Ford Bronco by Valder137 (CC BY)

Squeezed Out by Detroit?

The 1960s were a hot time for light-duty trucks and haulers. Jeep debuted the Wagoneer (1963), Ford launched the Bronco (1966), and Chevrolet introduced the Blazer (1969). But the bigger automakers had an advantage: Vehicles that shared engines and chassis components with other popular brands. IH’s light trucks “shared components with lower-volume medium-duty trucks,” which weren’t as popular or profitable, according to the book “A Corporate Tragedy: The Agony of International Harvester.

Navistar by Dismas (CC BY-SA)

All Good Things Must Come to an End

After various iterations — including a campervan — International Harvester retired the Scout badge in 1980 following “a crippling strike (at the time the longest in UAW history) and facing a financial crisis,” says MotorBiscuit. “International changed its name to Navistar in 1985 and pressed on with big semis and medium-duty trucks.”

VW HQ by Vanellus (CC BY-SA)

Then Along Came Volkswagen

Volkswagen ended up owning the Scout nameplate after its Traton Group truck subsidiary acquired Navistar in 2020 for $3.7 billion, says InsideEVs, and decided to use it for a standalone sub-brand “taking on Rivian, Ford and General Motors (all of which already have or soon will launch similar models).”

electric hummer

Why an Electric Reboot?

Off-road vehicles in the vein of SUVs and light-duty pickups have been popular for a long while. That interest is naturally carrying over into electric vehicles — such as the GMC Hummer EV, Jeep Wrangler, and Chevy Blazer —  which InsideEVs sees as becoming “an increasingly competitive and crowded segment.”

Related: Every Electric Truck and SUV on the Market – and More Expected Soon

SUV - VW Motor Company Badge

Two for the Road

Like many other EV makers, Volkswagen plans to launch the EV Scout with SUV and pickup versions “with an upturned window line that recalls the rear glass from the ’60s original,” says Car and Driver.

Volkswagen car maker logo on a building of czech dealership

When Can I Get One?

Potential buyers can expect to wait until the 2026 model year to see a new Scout in the flesh. Prototypes are expected to be unveiled in 2023, says Car and Driver. Volkswagen says it plans to build the Scout in America, but hasn’t announced any manufacturing details so far.