Scout Motors Inc. is banking on nostalgia. So is the state of South Carolina. The vehicle company hopes to harness the growing popularity of electric vehicles and revive a beloved brand—in the Palmetto State.
In the 1960s, International Harvester produced gas-powered Scout vehicles. Scout was a forerunner of today’s sport utility vehicles. Built to compete with the Jeep 4x4, early Scout models featured two doors and fold-down windshields. Rugged features made these vehicles appear more safari than frontier.
The Scout brand had a brief lifespan from 1961-1980. But experts say the vehicle continues to influence modern SUVs.
Even after manufacturing ended, Scout retained a loyal fanbase. The vehicles that remain are collector’s items among those who remember them fondly.
Volkswagen Group saw an opportunity. It will financially back the new Scout Motors. But the new company will operate independently under the leadership of company president Scott Keogh. He says today’s Scout will reimagine “the adventures that an off-road vehicle can deliver—only this time, it’s with an all-electric platform.”
Details about the reborn Scout are scarce. But Keogh suggests the 21st-century version will—like its forebear—both “[take] your family camping and also [show] up on the job site every morning.”
S.C. Governor Henry McMaster asked the state to pursue electric vehicle (EV) industry businesses forcefully. His strategy worked. South Carolina sealed the Scout deal in just two months.
“Some states were still shuffling paperwork after 60 days. This state had action,” says Keogh of the campaign to win the location bid.
Scout Motors will build a $2 billion plant outside Columbia in the midlands. South Carolina is determined to play an important role in the EV industry and all that entails, including battery-making.
South Carolina offered Scout Motors $1.3 billion in state help. The money covers part of the cost to bring Scout to the state, including paying for a new highway interchange, a railroad bridge, and utilities improvements.
“You have to spend money to make money,” McMaster says.
EVs could begin rolling off the Scout assembly line by 2026. Scout Motors hopes to employ 4,000 workers. In time, it plans to produce 200,000 vehicles per year for export around the world.
If comments on the Car and Driver website are any indication, auto lovers are excited about a new Scout. One reader imagines that German engineering plus American classic design could “‘cross the chasm’ to bring electrification to the masses.”
Another simply calls the Scout Motors announcement “the most exciting new car news in a while.”
Why? Innovation takes investment, and investment takes people. South Carolina put a significant amount of money toward new business and opportunity for residents.
Well, you know what they say. Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.
That car looks very expensive!!!