Let VW’s 2026 Scout Be the First Cheap Electric Off-Roader

VW’s new electric Scout should focus on utility and affordability, not capability.

byMay 11, 2022 4:54 PM
Let VW’s 2026 Scout Be the First Cheap Electric Off-Roader
Andrew Collins / VW / IH
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These days I feel about as jaded as copper trim on an old pirate ship when it comes to “cool stuff coming soon” announcements. But I have to admit I was amazed to learn that the Scout, a competitor to Jeep CJs and the original Ford Bronco from the 1960s and ‘70s, is coming back as an electric vehicle made by Volkswagen in 2026. As a longtime Scout fan and owner, I only have one hope for this new take on the old truck: Forget capability, just make it cheap.

At the risk of outing myself as a Luddite, I’ll admit I have very little interest in electric cars. There are some qualities about them I appreciate; getting extra cargo space as a result of having no engine is cool and near-silent operation is excellent. But everybody hyping EVs always hits the same notes: Overwhelming acceleration! Inescapable connectivity! Everything’s a screen! None of which I give a dang about.

Taking a look at the automotive landscape right now, I would guess that the 2026 Scout EV will be a luxury SUV boasting incredible off-road capability and unsettling 0-60 times with a pricing structure similar to the F-150 Lightning—some weird $44,999 model base nobody can ever find with most desirable ones spec’ing out at around $70,000. It’s hard to blame automakers for continually following this strategy because expensive options are where the big margins are at, and VW has a whole lot of shareholders to please.

But imagine if the Scout came back with the bare-minimum safety features required for road legality, one dinky little screen with essential operating info, interchangeable batteries, and a mid-tier price point that made it a truly accessible electric vehicle? Man, that would be awesome.

It’s too bad the math on electric vehicles isn’t as simple as “just make the 0-60 slower and decrease price,” because that would be the first slider I’d reach for.

In my ultimate new-Scout fantasies, whoever’s product planning this thing will figure out a way to make a version that’s decontented enough to actually be appealing on price in the same way the original Scout was. Make it a farm buggy that’s also capable of driving on the road, and priced accordingly. Hell, make this the bridge to electrify personal vehicles in rural communities.

Of course, if the final product looks anything like VW’s concept tweet, the new Scout’s engineers will have their hands full trying to overcome the economy penalties of heavy tires and a brick-like shape. But if any of those people are reading this, I leave you with one plea: If you get to pick between capability and cheapness, please, make it cheap.

There are plenty of expensive EV trucks in the pipeline—let Scout do what it did 40 years ago and own the no-frills utilitarian market!