Munro Vehicles, a manufacturer of 4×4 electric vehicles (EVs), has officially unveiled its first vehicle, the MunroMk_1 following the technical details we brought you last week. Designed, engineered and built in Britain, the company says the Munro MK_1 is the world’s most capable all-electric 4×4.
It was born off-road to navigate the most challenging terrain and can operate for up to 16 hours on a single battery charge. This vehicle looks like a modern version of a Land Rover on steroids, which is no bad thing, and we love the way it looks and performs.
The MunroMk_1 combines a state-of-the-art 280kW zero emissions electric powertrain with a proven, robust, simple-to-maintain mechanical driveline that delivers uncompromised off-road ability.
Its unique attributes make it an ideal choice for those seeking to minimise their environmental footprint in numerous sectors including construction, agriculture, mining, environmental, emergency rescue, remote infrastructure maintenance, and recreation without compromising on performance or capability.
The MunroMk_1 can effortlessly transport a crew of five to the most rugged locations, accommodating a 1000kg payload and 3500kg towing capacity. It is the ultimate, sustainable, utilitarian, off-road workhorse. Intensely focused on off-highway performance, reliability, ease-of-repair and longevity, the Munro is engineered to provide owners and operators with decades of service.
Priced from £49,995 (excl VAT) in a five-door, five-seat, 130-inch wheelbase utility guise, Munro has already received deposits for several Munro MK_1s that it will hand-build next year. Orders have come from locations across the globe including the UK, Switzerland, St Lucia and Dubai. Several pre-sale agreements have been reached with fleet operators in key industries.
In 2024, Munro will expand from its current headquarters in East Kilbride to a new purpose-built factory in central Scotland, where production will scale to more than 250 units per year initially. This will lead to the creation of 300 new jobs.
The new site will eventually produce 2,500 vehicles per annum. Munro is the first automotive manufacturer to build cars at scale in Scotland since Peugeot-Talbot closed its Linwood plant in 1981 which the Rootes Group established in 1963.
The company was founded in 2019 by Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson, with Peterson assuming the CEO role and Anderson appointed Head of Powertrain. The idea, which is named after a Scottish mountain that exceeds a height of 3000 feet, came to Peterson and Anderson during an off-road camping trip in the Highlands.
Russell Peterson, Munro CEO, said: “We had already taken measures to reduce our own environmental footprints and had a lot of experience driving our own EV and got quite used to the instant torque delivery.
“But the off-roader we were driving through the Highlands was combustion-engined, and it was really struggling on the steep climbs. So, we were musing how much better it would be with an electric motor.”
“On the return journey, we stopped at a café in Braemar, where a bank of 50kW rapid chargers were sitting empty and unused. Parked up nearby was a large group of combustion-engined safari adventure 4x4s of a type that are no longer manufactured and will have to be replaced eventually.
“It dawned on us that there was a gap in the market for an electric-powered, four-wheel-drive, utilitarian workhorse. We envisioned a vehicle with ultimate, go-anywhere, off-road ability, unrestricted by road-derived underpinnings that limit the all-terrain ability of vehicles such as the 4×4 pick-up trucks that have come to dominate the market.”
Ross Anderson, Munro Head of Powertrain, said: “Axial flux electric motors are rarely used in the automotive mass-manufacture sector where radial flux motors dominate.
“Axial flux motors are quite challenging to manufacture at scale and require a high degree of hand assembly, and they also come at a price premium. However, an axial flux electric motor provides the perfect solution for our application.”
Choosing an axial flux motor gives significant critical advantages over a radial flux unit. Also known as a ‘pancake’ motor, the compact nature of the axial flux motor enables weight to be reduced by half – from 80kg to 40kg in the case of the Munro – compared with a radial flux motor.
It also enables the unit to be located between the two front-seat occupants in front of the vehicle’s bulkhead. This results in a near 50/50 front/rear weight distribution, which enhances agility off-road.
In addition, while most electric motors spin up to 15,000rpm and thus require a reduction drive, the Munro’s axial motor spins between 5,000 and 8,000rpm. This relatively low rotational rate negates the need for a reduction drive, and the additional weight and complexity it brings, by enabling the drive to be taken directly to the transmission transfer case from the motor.
By combining with a two-speed transmission, the motor can work in its ‘happy place’, where it performs with a much greater level of efficiency than a radial flux motor at low speed.
Anderson added: “A further benefit of the axial flux motor is that it generates exceptionally high amounts of torque when running in reverse. When the Munro is in high gear ‘Drive’ mode, lifting off the accelerator provides a degree of regenerative braking via the resistance of the electric motor.
“In low-gear, ‘Off-Road’ setting, the regenerative braking is much more pronounced. This enables the vehicle to be driven in ‘one-pedal’ mode and provides a highly effective hill descent function to enhance safety and performance off-road.”
The Munro also features a heavy-duty mechanical braking system. Utilising non-vented as opposed to vented discs avoids any potential drop-off in performance due to mud clogging the ventilation spaces within the discs.
Range and Power
The Munro is offered with a choice of two electric motors, 220kW and 280kW, along with the option of two battery packs, 61kWh and 82kWh, affording an optimum range of up 190 miles (306km) This allows the Munro to operate off-road for up to 16 hours on a single battery charge.
The vehicle’s battery pack comprises 35 state-of-the-art Lithium NMC battery modules mounted in three heavy-duty aluminium boxes underneath the vehicle. This arrangement ensures it is quick, convenient, and inexpensive to replace individual battery modules if required.
A fully integrated heat pump-based thermal management system bolsters efficiency, and the Munro’s battery pack is guaranteed to deliver 80 per cent of its original energy capacity for at least eight years and 100,000 miles (160,934km).
Anderson said: “With your average electric vehicle, the battery is designed to last the life of the car, so in most cases, customers will never have to worry about replacing it. But because the Munro is engineered to last several decades, we will either recondition or replace the battery pack for customers when the time comes.
“This has the added benefit of guaranteeing the future value of our customer’s vehicles. We will partner with companies specialising in reuse and recycling to recoup the residual value of the battery pack, which will enable us to fit the latest battery technology at a reasonable cost.”
The Munro is offered with a choice of two AC charging options, 7kW to replenish the battery overnight, and 22 kW, which provides a full charge in around three and a half hours. An industry-standard DC CCS charger is also provided, enabling the battery to be replenished in just over 30 minutes.
Every Munro is geared for torque, with a top speed of 80mph, and the 280kW Performance version can surge to 62mph (100kph) in just 4.9 seconds. That said, the focus of the vehicle is firmly on utility, workability and superior off-road drivability, as Anderson reiterates.
Anderson said: “Peak torque of 700Nm is available up to 50mph, which ensures excellent response off-road. It also means the Munro can effortlessly tow a braked trailer weight of up to 3500kg. Whether it’s a mini digger, a power generator or livestock that needs transporting, the Munro makes light work of it.”
Product of its Environment
The Munro MK_1 launch model is the third iteration of the project. The Munro was developed in the Scottish terrain from which it takes its name. Before its global unveil, the vehicle was subjected to an intensive two-year test programme, tackling some of Scotland’s most demanding conditions in all weathers.
Hugh Roberts, director of the Far by Four off-road driving and training company, is assisting in the development of the Munro. A qualified British Off Road Driving Association (BORDA) instructor, Roberts provides training throughout Scotland and his clients include the Scottish Mountain Rescue and Scottish Coastguard.
Hugh Roberts, Far by Four director, said: “The Munro EV has always impressed me. Straight away the vehicle was competent off-road and now with the benefit of ongoing testing and development, the Munro is a very polished performer.
“A combination of electric torque, supple suspension and a rigid chassis makes it an easy vehicle to place confidently without the need for excessive speed to clear technical terrain.”
The electric motor also bestows further advantages on operators. The near-silent driving experience is a lot more pleasant to live with than a noisy diesel engine. The Munro is also completely free of vibration which eases operator and passenger fatigue, especially on long and arduous shifts.
Peterson, said: “The engineering is unashamedly agricultural in nature. Some people see the term agricultural as potentially derogatory, but at Munro, we certainly don’t.
“Agricultural vehicles feature some of the most sophisticated technology you can imagine. But above all, they are engineered to do the job, no matter how much punishment they soak up, and to keep doing it year after year.
“The Munro has been built to the most robust standards possible and to be fully operational in 30, 40, 50 years time.”
Munro have already received several deposits for the ’Founders’ Edition’, which will be hand-built at its East Kilbride headquarters in 2023. In 2024, Munro will expand to a purpose-built production facility in central Scotland.
At this point, the company will transition to Medium Series Type Approval in the UK and Small Series Type Approval for the EU market. Specific variants will be available in the US under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards. Vehicles will also be offered for global ex-works export, for those that can manage approval and registration in their own region.
Greater levels of manufacturing automation, such as advanced CNC machining and collaborative robots or ‘cobots,’ will support Munro’s strategic goal of producing 2,500 units per year.
Anderson concluded: “Not every Munro will be a five-door variant, of course. We plan to introduce a wide range of variants to meet our customers’ diverse needs and will unveil our next model early next year.
“While it will look different to our launch model, like every Munro, it will set new standards for emission-free off-road mobility. And it will conquer the most challenging terrain, master the toughest tasks and deliver a lifetime of service.”