Scottish startup Munro Vehicles has unveiled its first model, the MK_1, which it calls “the most capable all-electric 4×4 in the world”.
The all-terrain electric vehicle, which is expected to enter small-scale production from 2023, is said to offer a payload of 1,000 kg, a towing capacity of 3,500 kg and a 16-hour off-road duty cycle on a single battery charging.
It is thus designed as a zero-emissions option for users involved in construction, agriculture, mining, environment, emergency rescue, remote infrastructure maintenance and recreation” without compromising performance. or capabilities”, according to its manufacturer.
“Intensely focused on off-road performance, reliability, ease of repair and longevity, the Munro is designed to provide owners and operators with decades of service,” he added.
The MK_1 will cost in Britain from £49,995 (A$90,000) in five-door, five-seat ‘utility’ form and a 130-inch wheelbase, with Munro claiming to already hold some deposits, as well as orders for the UK, Switzerland, Saint Lucia and Dubai.
While the first batch will be handcrafted next year, in 2024 Munro will move to a new, purpose-built factory in central Scotland, where production is initially expected to increase to over 250 units a year and later to reach 2500 per year. by 2027.
Munro says it will be the first automaker to build large-scale cars in Scotland since Peugeot-Talbot closed its Linwood plant in 1981.
Munro chose an axial flux electric motor, which is said to weigh half the weight of a more common radial flux unit due to its higher power density. It is located between the two occupants of the front seats in front of the vehicle partition.
The Munro’s axial motor spins between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm, much slower revolutions than usual. This eliminates the need for a reduction drive, allowing the drive to be brought directly to the transmission transfer case from the engine. By combining with a two-speed transmission, the engine can operate at lower speeds with greater efficiency, Munro claims.
When the Munro is in Drive mode at high speed, lifting the throttle provides some degree of regenerative braking. But in low-speed “Off-Road” mode, the regenerative braking is much more pronounced, allowing for single-pedal driving.
The Munro features a heavy-duty mechanical braking system using non-vented discs as opposed to vented discs which can clog in the terrain.
The Munro is offered with a choice of two electric motors, making 220kW and 280kW, and two batteries with energy capacities of 61kWh or 82kWh – the latter offering over 300km of claimed range.
While the 280kW version sprints to 100kph in a claimed 4.9 seconds, it’s not really a vehicle that prioritizes straight-line punch. The maximum torque of 700 Nm is only available up to 80 km/h (50 mph), which improves low-speed crawling and towing capability.
The battery consists of 35 NMC lithium modules mounted in three rugged aluminum boxes under the vehicle. This arrangement “ensures that it is quick, convenient and inexpensive to replace individual battery modules when necessary,” Munro added.
“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 designed to last several decades, we will recondition or replace the battery for customers when the time comes,” said powertrain manager Ross Anderson.
The Munro is offered with either 7kW or 22kW AC charging, as well as CCS type DC charging.
Munro claims that at no time did he consider using a “skateboard” chassis with two electric motors. Instead, the priority was to equip the Munro with a single mid-mounted electric motor powering a mechanical four-wheel-drive system.
“The best way to drive off-road is to make sure the same amount of torque is delivered to each wheel and all wheels are spinning at the same speed. And no matter how smart your computer is, you’ll always have problems if you have a split transmission in the vehicle,” the company claims.
It sits on a galvanized steel ladder frame constructed with 5mm thick steel. Munro builds its own axles and uses a combination of aftermarket parts and “motorsport-derived components” for the rest of the mechanical drivetrain—by motorsport we mean off-road racing.
Off-road prowess is enhanced by a massive 480mm of ground clearance and the claimed ability to wade through water to a depth of 800mm. The radical design allows for approach and departure angles of 84 and 51 degrees, plus a breakaway angle of 148 degrees.
Prior to its global unveiling, the MK_1 was put through an intensive two-year testing programme, tackling some of Scotland’s most demanding all-weather conditions (let’s be honest here, it was almost certainly mostly mud and the rain !).
The body is mounted on the chassis at eight points. The company says that while it initially outsourced body production, the aluminum panels are now laser cut, formed and bent on site before being moved a few meters to the paint shop. of the company.
The MK_1 is designed to handle a payload of 1000 kg and a standard Euro pallet in the loading bay. There are also two lockers up front designed to carry charging cables, larger tools or wet weather gear.
The interior uses a lot of industrial fixtures, says Munro CEO Russell Peterson.
“The switches will be familiar to anyone operating farm equipment…they can be operated with gloves on, they are fully waterproof, so with the tough floor and door surfaces, the entire vehicle can be pressure washed at from waist height,” Peterson said. added.
“The switches are almost impossible to break, but if damaged they are quick, easy and inexpensive to replace.”
The Munro is offered with a choice of low and high power DC converters to run accessories such as winches and light bars. In addition to two USB C sockets and two wireless chargers, the MK_1 is equipped with two three-pin household sockets.
The dashboard has an erasable double DIN screen, compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. It can also be upgraded to a higher unit or replaced with a UHF two-way radio.
In terms of sales, Munro says he will select a series of agents to market the MK_1 but will not establish a network of traditional dealers. Each vehicle will come with a five-year/160,000 km warranty.
“We recognize and respect our customers’ right to repair and maintain their vehicle, and this will not invalidate the warranty,” the company added.
Munro was launched in 2019 with private funding provided by Mr. Anderson and Mr. Peterson, and a further capital injection was raised in late 2021.
“We had already taken steps to reduce our own environmental footprint and had a lot of experience driving our own electric vehicle, and got used to the instant delivery of torque,” CEO Peterson recalled.
“But the off-roader we were driving through the Highlands was combustion engine and it really struggled on steep climbs. So we were thinking how much better it would be with an electric motor.
“On the way back, we stopped at a cafe in Braemar, where a bank of 50kW fast chargers was empty and unused. Parked nearby was a large group of combustion engine safari adventure 4x4s of a type that is no longer made and will eventually need to be replaced.
“It occurred to us that there was a gap in the market for an electric four-wheel-drive utility workhorse. We envisioned a vehicle with ultimate, go-anywhere off-road capability, unrestricted by road-derived foundations that limit the off-road capability of vehicles such as the market-dominant 4×4 pickup trucks.
By the way, we think this thing could have some legs here in Australia, especially in the mining sector where low mileage and poor ventilation are common factors…