Home » The Company That’s Reportedly Designing Volkswagen’s New ‘Scout’ Vehicles Has A Rich History Of Off-Road Dominance

The Company That’s Reportedly Designing Volkswagen’s New ‘Scout’ Vehicles Has A Rich History Of Off-Road Dominance

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Automakers have huge research and development facilities in-house, along with teams of engineers and designers dedicated to the development of new models. However, that’s not to say that every model gets put together this way. Sometimes, an automaker doesn’t have the capacity to design or build a certain new model or special edition, and it outsources some or all of the job. Now, it appears Volkswagen is gearing up to do just that with its upstart Scout EV brand, and it’s got the perfect partner for the job.

If you haven’t heard the good news already, VW is resurrecting Scout with a lineup of all-electric off-roaders. It’s all thanks to Navistar International finding itself in financial peril a few years back, which allowed VW to take a stake in the company, securing assets like the Scout brand, which originally belonged to International Harvester. The world is expected to see Scout pickup trucks and SUVs entering production by the end of 2026.

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As covered by Automotive News, it seems that Volkswagen won’t be taking on the big job of getting Scout up and running all by itself. Reports in Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung quote sources in the know who say that VW has signed a contract with Austrian manufacturer Magna Steyr to develop the Scout EVs, to the tune of €450 million ($492 million USD).

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Thus far, Scout has only released vague drawings of potential future vehicles.

Allegedly, development is already in full swing, with the models on track to reach the 2026 deadline for series production. The dollar figure, if reports are accurate, would make it Magna Steyr’s biggest development contract in its history.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, Magna Steyr is a sort of automotive gun-for-hire that often builds complex or unusual models for other automakers. It’s currently in charge of producing vehicles like the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra, and the Jaguar E-Pace and I-Pace. The company has handled a wide variety of models over the years. It handled the development of the Audi TT, the development and manufacture of the Peugeot RCZ, and even built the Aston Martin Rapide.

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Magna Steyr often handles the development or production of special models that sit outside the norm for an automaker, like the Toyota Supra. Credit: Toyota

Most importantly, though, Magna Steyr has a great history with off-road and all-wheel-drive specialty models. In fact, it’s built and developed some of the most storied off-roaders in modern history. The company has been in charge of building the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen since 1979:

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And Magna Steyr built the Jeep Grand Cherokee ZG, WG and WK models from 1992 to 2010. Here’s a ZG that our David Tracy saw in Germany a few months ago:

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More recently, Magna Steyr worked on the development of the Ineos Grenadier, a vehicle prized for its tough design and off-road ability:

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Magna’s influence was even felt in the development of the Ineos Grenadier. Credit: David Tracy

The company also helped design the 4Matic four-wheel-drive system used in a wide variety of Mercedes-Benz models:

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In its earlier guise as Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the company helped develop Mercedes-Benz’s 4Matic all-wheel-drive system, which famously passed the front driveshaft through an oddly-shaped spring. Credit: Mercedes-Benz

Developing rugged vehicles is really in the very roots of Magna Steyr, if you look at the history books. Going farther back, as Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the company built the Haflinger, an oddball off-road truck that was exported all over the world for both private and military use. Later, the company came to build the Pinzgauer High Mobility All-Terrain Vehicle. Available in four- and six-wheel-drive variants, it became popular with military users including Austria, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

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The Haflinger was a basic off-road conveyance that weighed just 1322 lb and featured a tiny 643cc engine. Credit: Backlash, CC-BY-SA-3.0

[Editor’s Note: I once interviewed an off-road expert out of Hong Kong (the 4×4 King Of The World) who told me that, in his expert opinion, the Haflinger is the greatest off-road vehicle of all time. -DT]. 

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The Pinzgauer was a more imposing military vehicle that found use by militaries all over the world. It’s prized as a highly-capable off-road vehicle that is simple, rugged, and easy to repair in tough situations. Credit: ArToxHD, CC-BY-SA-4.0

Currently, reports suggest that VW will still handle production of the Scout lineup. The vehicles are slated to be manufactured in a new production facility in Columbia, South Carolina. Being constructed at the cost of $2 billion over the next two years, the new factory is expected to produce up to 150,0000 Scouts in the first full year of production, obviously subject to demand.Thus far, details on the Scout vehicles remain scant. All we’ve seen are vague drawings in profile thus far, depicting a pickup and SUV with a rugged yet modern design. VW has stated the vehicles will ride on a unique platform built from the outset for off-roading, and that the Scout lineup will be all-electric. Scout CEO Scott Keogh has previously stated a price point somewhere around $40,000, but that could change drastically by 2026 given the inflationary pace of the economy in recent years.

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Scout has secured an office in South Carolina while it prepares for the construction of its new factory.

It might seem strange for VW to hand off design of its new EV off-roaders to a third party, but it could be a very astute move. Sometimes, signing a big check to an experienced outsider is less hassle than trying to do everything yourself, as any homeowner that’s attempted changing a garbage disposal will tell you.  Magna Steyr has a long history of developing great cars, and it could just nail the brief yet again. You’ll read all about the new Scout lineup just as soon as we get behind the wheel, so don’t touch that dial!

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Image credits: Scout, Toyota, Backlash, ArtoxHD, David Tracy, Mercedes-Benz, Scout

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MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

Modern VW doesn’t make any off road vehicles, just badge engineering. I’d much rather Magna Steyr do the design and building of production ready models, then VW goes about putting them into mass production.

My guess though is that VW will exert too much control over Magna Steyr’s design and it’ll be an abomination made by committee that costs more than anyone but the rich can afford.

Utherjorge
Utherjorge
4 months ago

The decision to be EV-only was always silly, but now that everyone sees the light…will it have a ICE? And will someone again make the shortsighted decision to use a BMW engine?

I bet yes and yes

Gee See
Gee See
4 months ago

The Magna corporation is also building the Fisker cars, so they have experience with EV.

For me the Magna corpration is not as interesting as the Stronachs who owns it.. they are the real life Succession.

Last edited 4 months ago by Gee See
Pro Engineer
Pro Engineer
4 months ago

Changing out a garbage disposal really isn’t that difficult.

MATTinMKE
MATTinMKE
4 months ago
Reply to  Pro Engineer

The one in my old house was rusted in place. Angle grinder for the win.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

if they use the Magna Electric motor solid axles that were at recently shown in a jeep, I think that could definitely make these more palletable to actual off roaders. if they do a decent job of making the main battery able to be backed by suitcase batteries to reduce weight or extend range, they would have a real hit on their hands. I would definitely buy a scout in this configuration with say a 100 mile main battery for 40K or so, and then buy 2-4 50 mile extenders to mount in the rear and/or the frunk. To use when road tripping or off road as needed.

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
4 months ago

What the heck is a Grand Cherokee ZG? Is it a typo or some oddball variant for Europe?

Mike B
Mike B
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

I’d imagine the G stands for “German”, as they also mention a “WG” (presumably the WJ).

Thomas Metcalf
Thomas Metcalf
4 months ago
Reply to  Mike B

That was my thought.

TXJeepGuy
TXJeepGuy
4 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Metcalf

Had the same question. Per a quick google, ZG is just the designation for the “European” version.

Last edited 4 months ago by TXJeepGuy
James Kohler
James Kohler
4 months ago

Forget the Scout, give us more Haflinger! I’ll name mine Frodo : )

JunkInTheFrunk
JunkInTheFrunk
4 months ago

The existence of Contract Manufacturers like Magna Steyr means that there is a fast path to build an Autopian car of some kind to spec. If we all pitch in at the Whale Leather interior level, can we fund the development of a modernized AMC Eagle 4×4?

OverlandingSprinter
OverlandingSprinter
4 months ago
Reply to  JunkInTheFrunk

The Autopian’s Bishop already did the hard work on the AMC Eagle redesign! DT just needs to send Magna Steyr a hyperlink to the article.

Madewithgenuineparts
Madewithgenuineparts
4 months ago

Office in the BullStreet district in Columbia!!! I’d recognize that anywhere, cool to see more local industry down in my old college town – with BMW in the upstate (Greenville Spartanburg) and Volvo in the lowcountry (Charleston area), now the midlands gets its own pet automaker too. Hopefully this attention raises the bar for the VW dealers in town too.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
4 months ago

That Half-linger looks full-capable.

Nic Periton
Nic Periton
4 months ago

You missed out the Fiat Panda 4×4. There are consequences for missing Fiat Panda 4x4s out of articles.

Bill Garcia
Bill Garcia
4 months ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

That thing is like a mythical creature – I can clearly picture a purple Panda 4×4 Sisley in my mind and would love to have one some day!

David Tracy
David Tracy
4 months ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

We are fools!

Torque
Torque
4 months ago
Reply to  Nic Periton

“That’s a paddl’in” 🙂
https://knowyourmeme.com/memes/thats-a-paddlin

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