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Forgotten nametag: Scout | CarExpert

The word ‘reconnaissance’ has many meanings. In addition to the dictionary definition of someone being sent ahead of a group to find something or gather information, it also implies being the first to do something, or to innovate and disrupt.

It is perhaps for these reasons that the Volkswagen Group’s Skoda brand recently adopted the ‘Scout Scout’ moniker to brand the rougher, higher-riding versions of the Octavia and Superb.

But more recently, the Volkswagen Group said it would go further: making the Scout nomenclature a brand in its own right.

The Volkswagen Group says the Scout brand will include a range of electric, off-road-ready 4×4 vehicles designed and developed in the US, primarily for the US market.

How did this happen, and are there any Australian links?

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The History of Scouting and the Australian Presence

The Scout nameplate is associated with the International Harvester (IH) brand.

An American commercial and agricultural equipment manufacturer, International Harvester was founded in 1902 after the merger of several other companies.

As the name implies, the company specialized in the production of various agricultural and agricultural equipment, including harvesters and mowers, and soon began to manufacture combustion engine machinery such as tractors.

Soon after, global expansion, and in Australia, the company circumvented our protective import duties by opening factories in Geelong (1937), Dandenong (1952) and Port Melbourne (1958). to produce everything from trucks to construction and ground moving equipment.

Dominating the farm and farm equipment market, International Harvester sought to diversify its product line further throughout the mid-20th century.

The company found that the Willys Jeep, once wildly successful by Allied forces in World War II, now being used as a dual-purpose vehicle, was also adept at recreational off-roading because It hauls supplies and equipment over muddy roads and rough terrain.

Responding to this, it sought to create a more refined competitor, and launched the Scout (also known as the Scout 80) in the late 1960s, as the MY61 model.

Sold after just 24 months of development, including compromises such as replacing the original fiberglass body with a cheaper but heavier steel alternative, the original Scout was powered by a 2.5-liter engine. liter four-cylinder, developing only 69kW capacity.

At the time, IH only produced larger six- and eight-cylinder engines, and so the four-cylinder was simply an eight-cylinder gasoline engine with a discarded cylinder bank. The improved Scout 800 was introduced in 1965, with added convenience features like electric wipers, but more importantly a broader engine choice including six- and eight-cylinder engines.

The second generation Scout II followed from 1971, and it was this model that gave the Scout nameplate its own.

Breaking away from the rugged, Jeep rival of the original, the Scout II has a cleaner silhouette and a more refined, luxurious image that was the spiritual predecessor to the modern SUV, while at the same time inspiring inspired a host of direct competitors including the Ford Bronco.

Perhaps a notable feature on both generations of the Scout is the variety of body styles on offer, although neither Scout model has a rear door.

For the first-generation Scout, buyers can choose between a full-length vinyl or metal roof. For those looking to use their Scouts to carry gear, a half-length Ute-style ‘taxi hood’, also in metal and vinyl, is also available. The vinyl roof top is removable, giving customers a 4×4 convertible experience, perfect for recreational driving.

The second generation has a similar body style, with the full-length metal roof Traveltop variants now featuring an upward “kick” specifically for the rear window line with the rear window pulling. long.

In addition to the body style changed from the first generation, the Scout II also comes in two lengthened variants, the Scout Terra and the Traveler. These get more space for the rear seats by increasing the wheelbase by 46cm.

The Terra uses a half-cab fiberglass roof, like the Ute, while the Traveler has a full-length roof, also made of fiberglass, but combined with a hatchback-style tailgate.

In Australia, both generations of the Scout were sold, but the model gained a bit more traction in 1976 following the introduction of Terra and Traveler versions. However, the actual quality and reliability of the car was still lower than that of the newly launched Japanese competitors at the time, Toyota and Nissan.

In 1981, the Scout’s last year on sale in Australia, Traveltop and Traveler variants became available, both powered by a 5.6-liter eight-cylinder engine and priced from $14,675 and $US, respectively. 15,440 (about $63,973 and $67,308 in 2022 dollars).

With parent company International Harvester experiencing financial difficulties, the Scout lineup ceased operations globally in 1980.

Connect Volkswagen

The Volkswagen connection stems from a series of decisions that led to the disintegration and collapse of the faltering parent company International Harvester in the 1980s.

While the Scout line has, on its own, has been reasonably successful, particularly in its home market of America, parent company International Harvester has grown too thin on its own, in developing a range of 4-wheeler vehicles. × 4 and passenger vehicles with traditional strengths in commercial machinery, farm equipment and trucks.

As a result, consolidation and streamlining of the business took place, all because the company spoke out about selling off IH’s construction and agricultural equipment divisions, focusing instead on vehicles. Commerce.

Now, the brand has been renamed Navistar International due to a appraisal error which means that the intellectual property of the International Harvester brand resides in the sold equipment division, engines and truck production continued for two decades. next.

However, with the US EPA enacting tighter emissions regulations for diesel commercial vehicles in the early 2000s, Navistar bet on emissions recirculation (EGR) technology. The company believes that diesel engines equipped with this technology on their own (rather than implemented in conjunction with other technologies such as selective catalytic reduction/urea injection) can meet EPA emissions.

Unfortunately, this is a fatal error. The company failed to meet the regulations, suffered numerous fines and lawsuits, and as a result suffered a takeover by Traton SE, the commercial vehicle subsidiary of the Volkswagen Group. Initially acquired a 16.6% stake in 2017, but the full buyback was completed in 2021.

In turn, this purchase gave the Volkswagen Group the rights to the Scout brand.

Future lineups and a return to Australia?

In addition to confirming that Scout will form an independent brand within the Volkswagen Group, the company has released concept sketches for two potential models and forecasts annual sales of up to 250,000 branded models. Scout, with initial production slated to begin in 2026 in the United States.

Volkswagen is expected to invest $100 million initially to form the new brand.

The two models previewed include an SUV and a coupe-styled pickup, both with the kick-up rear windows characteristic of certain variants of the Scout II.

Volkswagen has also confirmed that these models will use a dedicated 4×4 EV platform, meaning it is unlikely they will be based on the same MEB platform shared by the current VW ID. 3 and ID. 4, among other models.

THAN: Scout, a new VW brand to launch electronics in 2026
THAN: Volkswagen introduces Scout as durable EV brand – report

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