By Sean Tucker
A Scout drives past a Ford Bronco and a Jeep Wagoneer. You might assume Lyndon B. Johnson is president. But wait. The Scout is heading to a charging station to plug in.
Welcome to 2026.
Volkswagen’s /zigman2/quotes/204431732/composite VWAGY +0.11% supervisory board has voted to resurrect an iconic American automotive badge — Scout. This time, though, it won’t wear a tractor company’s name. And it will wear a plug.
In recent months, VW has toyed with building an electric pickup for sale in the U.S. Rumors have suggested it could be based on the Amarok, a pickup VW sells overseas. A VW design executive even playfully posted a rendering of the upcoming ID.Buzz electric van with a bed on the back.
What all those rumors missed is that, through a circuitous round 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. Scouts had rugged lines, truck frames, and 4-wheel drive. They competed with the Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F +1.71% Bronco, Jeep Wagoneer, and other early SUVs for the attention of buyers who wanted something trail-worthy.
The Scout was, at times, available as a pickup, a classic hard-top SUV, and a Jeep Wrangler-like convertible off-roader with a fold-down windshield.
International Harvester abandoned its car business in 1980 to focus on commercial trucks and school buses. In the decades since, its assets have been sold and resold. They landed, in 2016, with the Volkswagen Group.
The electric future Scout
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that VW may produce “a new Scout-branded electric vehicle” and a pickup truck. On May 11, VW’s management board approved the plan. Scout will operate as a separate unit of VW Group in the U.S., according to trade publication Automotive News.
The vehicles would presumably ride on the same electric architecture as the ID.Buzz and ID.4 SUV. But the Scout name will give VW the chance to cash in on the kind of nostalgia that has made the new Bronco such a hit and brought back the Wagoneer name.
VW leaned into that same nostalgia with the ID.Buzz — a rebirth of the classic 1960s microbu s. But it has lacked much of an off-road legacy in the U.S. to embrace. Bringing back the Scout name could give it one in a hurry.