Welcome to 2026.
Volkswagen’s Supervisory Board has voted to resurrect an iconic American automotive badge – Scout. This time, however, it won’t be named after a tractor company. And he will wear a cork.
In recent months, VW has been toying with building an electric pickup for sale in the United States. Rumors have suggested it could be based on the Amarok, a pickup that VW sells overseas. A VW design boss even playfully posted a render of the upcoming ID.Buzz electric van with a bed in the back.
What all of these rumors have missed is that, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, Volkswagen owns the rights to the International Harvester name and its legacy of early SUVs.
The original scout
From 1961 to 1980, the International Harvester Scout was one of the world’s first genuine SUVs. The Scouts had rugged lines, truck chassis and 4 wheel drive. They competed with the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wagoneer and other early SUVs for the attention of buyers who wanted something trail-worthy.
The Scout was sometimes available as a pickup truck, a classic hardtop SUV, and a Jeep Wrangler-like convertible off-roader with a folding windshield.
International Harvester exited its automotive business in 1980 to focus on commercial trucks and school buses. Over the decades that followed, its assets were sold and resold. They landed, in 2016, with the Volkswagen group.
The pathfinder of the electric future
The Wall Street Journal earlier reported that VW may produce “a new Scout-branded electric vehicle” and a pickup truck. Today VW’s board approved the plan. Scout will operate as a separate VW Group unit in the United States, according to trade publication Automotive News.
The vehicles would presumably run on the same electrical architecture as the ID.Buzz and ID.4 SUVs. But the Scout name will give VW the chance to tap into the kind of nostalgia that made the new Bronco such a hit and brought back the Wagoneer name.
VW leaned into that same nostalgia with the ID.Buzz – a revival of the classic 1960s microbus. But it lacked much of a USA off-road heritage to embrace. Bringing back the Scout name might get him one quickly.