Will the International Scout Return? VW Just Bought Navistar

Though there are still papers to be signed Volkswagen just bought Navistar International. The big rig truck manufacturers. But International didn’t always just make semi-trucks. It made the Scout SUV for 20 years and the Travelall which was like a Suburban. And it also made pickup trucks from 1907 into the mid-1970s. Since VW just bought Navistar will the International Scout make its return?

VW sells about 60,000 to 80,000 of its Atlas SUVs in the US. Those aren’t terrible numbers but not exactly impressive in this SUV zeitgeist we are living in. But what if VW made a few minor changes to its Atlas and marketed it through both VW and Navistar dealers as the new Scout? Yeah, we know it’s a unibody as opposed to body-on-frame. 

VW has 600 dealers in the US while Navistar has 1,000

Mashup of an International Scout with a VW Atlas

But what about a reinforced body with an exposed roll cage and optioned with hardcore off-road accessories? And here’s the clincher; while VW has 600 dealers in the US, Navistar has 1,000 extending out to Mexico, Brazil, and Canada. Look, we’re riffing here. We can’t begin to know the synergies and adaptations VW has within its vast portfolio to pull this off. 

The bottom line is that Jeeps are hot, and the Broncos are raging. Now VW has a name that has instant cred in the off-road arena with the Scout. It’s focused on autonomous and electric frontiers but the here and now requires you to take advantage of your assets and VW has a big asset in the Scout. Even the august Automotive News thinks this is good.

How about a Scout and an upmarket International Travelall?

Modified International Scout | Getty

Or how about an upmarket International Travelall? Maybe something that could be at the level of a Range Rover? Every manufacturer in the SUV segment including Ferrari and Lambo VW now has an opening. It can develop another brand based on its current platforms. 

VW has expressed interest in sharing its all-electric MEB EV platform with other manufacturers. It could also develop its own Scout EV. Or forget the EV route and adapt one of Audi’s or Porsche’s platforms. You see, there are many ways to skin a cat with what is sitting under VW’s corporate umbrella. 

It is within VW’s grasp to create light commercial vehicles around the International name

1971-80 International Scout II
1971-80 International Scout II

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Both Ford and VW have forged a relationship that both say will extend well into the future. An F-150 cab and chassis with its own bed, fascia, and interior would make a sweet International pickup. It is within VW’s grasp to create a new line of light commercial vehicles around the International name. No one associates VW with commercial vehicles. Now it can abandon any thought of a VW truck and use the International name to create its own commercial brand.

You get the point so we’ll dispense with further cheerleading. VW needs to optimize its purchase of Navistar International to include seriously getting into the white-hot truck and SUV market in the US. This affords VW the opportunity to use Navistar’s dealer body, name, and authenticity to capture a share of US truck sales.