Meet Scout, the Electric Car Brand That Will Be Your Next Must-Have SUV

With one foot in the past and one in the future, Scout Motors just broke ground on its assembly plant and gave us a tour of their future. This is pretty cool.

A Heritage Scout Stands On The Building Site Of The New Assembly Plant.
A heritage Scout stands on the building site of the new assembly plant.

Shouldn’t Your Adventures Be Sustainable, Too?

It’s not every day that I’m excited to go to the ground breaking ceremony of a car factory. (Right?)

But this week was special: I got to see the place where Volkswagen will bring back the Scout as an off-road ready SUV that is fully powered by electricity.

And it was pretty special to be there.

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Why Scout Is Special

The event started with a group of owners of original Scout models — some restored, others not — who drove to Blythewood, SC to be a part of the official ground breaking. Many of the vintage Scouts were painted in beautiful candy colors that make this heritage of the brand even more fun.

The Scout, which was introduced in 1961, was the original American SUV. International Harvester, which made farm and industrial vehicles, discovered they could enter the passenger vehicle space and compete with Jeep. It was a heady time; the Ford Bronco, Jeep Wagoneer and Chevrolet Blazer all entered the market soon after. But, International Harvester wasn’t really a car company and decided to stop making the Scout in 1980.

Fast forward 42 years and the brand is back; VW announced the return of Scout Motors in 2022 and will bring its first car to the market in 2027.

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A Model Of The Scout Motor Campus In Blythewood, Sc

A model of the Scout Motor campus in Blythewood, SC. Photo: Scotty Reiss

What to Expect From Scout

The company has said they will build two vehicles: An SUV and a pickup truck. And, they promise to be true to the Scout heritage, with the capability and integrity that original Scout owners loved the brand for.

The company wouldn’t talk details about the models, designs or batteries — it’s just too soon. But they did let on that a big advantage will be customization. In fact, more than a fifth of the square footage of factory space will be dedicated to accessorization. It’s the company’s intention to build a template that allows customers to build their own custom Scout, ready for camping and overlanding to off-roading, with skid plates, lift kits, coolers, wheels, equipment racks, storage and more. And, I have to hope, they’ll be able to customize with those lovely vintage colors.

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Scott Keogh And Jan Spies Place A Brick From The Original Scout Factory On The Podium

Scott Keogh and Jan Spies place a brick from the original Scout factory on the podium. Photo: Scout

And Then, Innovation

Scout has to be viable, however: It needs to deliver on the promise of off roading and be true to modern values, which include being environmentally responsible. An electric car fits that demand perfectly. But, it’ll take a lot of fresh thinking and innovative ideas to achieve.

Scout Motors leaders, president Scott Keogh and head of production Jan Spies, shared their commitment to innovation, both in the development of Scout’s models and the assembly plant that will build them.

Scouts will be built from the ground up, not simply be a re-badged and beefed up VW ID.4 or an electrified Atlas; it will have its own proprietary battery and power system, its own architecture and it’s own identity.

To do this, Scout hired some of the best and brightest from across the industry, including designers and engineers from Jeep, Hyundai, Rivian and of course, VW.

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The company’s timing could be pretty good. It’s expected that by the time the first models roll off the production line that the EV market will be in full swing. There should be quadruple, or more, the number of public car chargers, EV batteries will be able to charge faster and go further and  there will be more companies making the needed materials and supplies, driving down the cost.

And then, the popularity of adventure vehicles seems to have no end. They are the most sought-after, hard to get and expensive cars on the market: Jeep Wrangler, Ford Bronco, Toyota Land Cruiser, Rivian R1T, Hummer EV. This year we’ll see even more from Lexus, Toyota and Hyundai. And this category has been slow to move into electrification, making Scout’s position a very good one.

I Had To Snap A Selfie With The Official Highway Exit Sign!

I had to snap a selfie with the official highway exit sign! Photo: Scotty Reiss

A Lovely Site to Build Scout: In the “Detroit of the South”

Here’s where my home pride puffs up just a bit: I grew up just up the road from Blythewood, SC. And I recall the excitement when Mercedes-Benz announced its first US manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa, AL. They were quickly followed by BMW (just up the road in Spartanburg, SC), Hyundai, Honda, Kia and now, Volvo and Toyota, in building plants in the Southeast, as well a key suppliers like Michelin and Continental Tires. Add to that all the suppliers, from electronics and metals to food services and office supplies, and each manufacturer is a mini-city of productivity with supply chains that extend for a hundred miles.

The region is all the better for it, too; not just in the added jobs, but tax revenue that improves education and infrastructure, and in disposable income for things like new houses, good restaurants, resorts and retail.

The Red House On The Scout Property Will Be Preserved

The Red House on the Scout property will be preserved

A New Heritage for Scout

The kickoff of the dedication of the Scout plant started with the passing of a milestone, or rather, a red brick: The Scout Rally that ended at the plant site brought a brick from Scout’s original factory in Fort Wayne, IN to be placed on the new site in South Carolina.

The brick, strong in its iron-reinforced red clay and crushed rock, is not dissimilar to a small red brick house on the Scout property. The house belonged to the Swygert family for generations and the plant will be built on what was their land. When Scout started to meet at the site, the house was used for meetings. The original kitchen cabinets and wheel chair ramp on the front porch remain.

The Scout team intends to preserve the “Red House” as they call it. They haven’t decided what they’ll do with it. A heritage center? A basecamp? A getaway for meetings? Either way, it captures perfectly the feeling of where we came from and where we’re going. And both vintage and modern Scouts will look perfect parked beside it.

Disclosure: I was a guest of Scout for this event; travel and accommodations were provided but the snapping of photos and taking of notes was my own delight.

Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss