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Thistle do nicely: Munro Mk_1 is Scotlandís tough electric 4x4. Image by Munro.

Thistle do nicely: Munro Mk_1 is Scotlandís tough electric 4x4
As well as being an eminently capable off-roader, the Munro Mk_1 is due to be the first volume-produced car built in Scotland in decades.
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What's all this about?

This is the first electric 4x4 from the small Scottish automotive start-up, Munro. It may have blocky looks and agricultural-sounding underpinnings, and it may be designed as a rugged, go-anywhere EV, but itís quite a sophisticated and innovative vehicle. The company has big plans, with the Mk_1 (the five-door, five-seater, 130-inch wheelbase model) due to go into small-production next year before an expansion of the model range and plans to hit production numbers of around 2,500 by the middle of the decade. Significantly, itíll be the first volume-produced car to be built in Scotland since Peugeot stopped building Talbot Sunbeams in Linwood in 1981.

Agricultural? Thatís a bit harsh...

Not at all. In fact, itís a term the company embraces. The firm was founded in 2019 by a pair of entrepreneurs, Ross Anderson and Russell Peterson and, with the latter from a farming background, and having run his own agricultural contracting business, ďagriculturalĒ doesnít mean Ďunsophisticatedí but rather durable and tough. Thereís the galvanised steel ladder chassis, for instance. The body mounted on the frame with the option of solid aluminium spacers instead of rubber mounts to enable it to carry heavier loads. It can ford water to a depth of 800mm, features ground clearance of 480mm, can carry a ton weight (as large as a euro-pallet) in its ply-lined load bed and can tow up to 3,500kg, so itís very capable.

What's powering it?

While most all-wheel drive EVs employ dual motors to deliver power to the wheels, the Munro instead uses a single light and compact axial flux motor which occupies far less space than the bulkier kind of a radial flux motors seen in most electric vehicles. Power is supplied by a choice of 61kWh or 82kWh battery packs and a single electric motor of 299hp or 381hp in output. The beauty of the axial flux motor is that it spins far more slowly than a radial unit ó between 5,000 and 8,000rpm versus 15,000 ó which means that a reduction gear can be eliminated, saving weight. Power then is sent directly from the motor to the transfer case of the two-speed transmission. In its longest-range form, the Munro can manage 190 miles between charges or, to put it in terms of a piece of agricultural machinery, around 16 hours. That powertrain is enough, Munro says, to propel the 381hp model to 62mph from rest in 4.9 seconds, but said that thatís missing the point entirely and that its strength is still in its utility.

What utility is that then?

The Munro is aimed at individuals and businesses in the construction, agricultural, mining, emergency rescue and remote infrastructure maintenance sectors who wish to reduce their CO2 emissions while still retaining go-anywhere capability. Some of the options indicate the kinds of uses that Munro sees for the Mk_1; as well as full rollover protection, thereís the option of a reinforced roof to guard against falling objects. Thereís the option too of deleting the stereo and infotainment systems for occupations such as railway maintenance in which listening to the radio isnít allowed, and also included is a 12-volt electrical system with DC converters for running winches, light bars and so on. There are saddle-bag-style lockers at the front into which users can chuck dirty gloves, hand tools and the like, so itís pretty well thought-out.

You mentioned something about low weight?

Plush it isnít. Desperately uncomfortable? Not quite. Thereís a six-speaker audio system for starters as well as a dual-screen infotainment display system capable of Apple CarPlay/Android Auto smartphone mirroring. So too is there a pair of USB sockets and wireless charging pads. The ultimate in luxury though has to be the pair of three-pin domestic plug sockets which can be used to run a kettle, a microwave, a toaster or practically anything else meaning that users can keep warm and well-fed wherever they are or whatever theyíre doing.

Must be pretty Spartan then?

Not exactly plush, no. Itís accessed by a set of front-hinged butterfly doors and itís pretty cramped in there. ďNecessarilyĒ narrow, says Praga. That said, thereís still room in there for a pair of two-metre-tall adults (around 6ft 6in), with adjustable seats, a removable steering wheel and an adjustable pedal box. Thereís air-conditioning at least, operated by overhead switches like in an aircraft (inspiration was drawn, according to Praga, from its aircraft division), but there arenít any big infotainment screens. Navigation functions are instead afforded by an integrated spring-mounted bracket on the dashboard, which is to say you plug in your phone and use that instead, Dacia style. One feature which drivers may be keen on, however, is an in-built fire extinguisher operated by a switch on the dash.

Where does Munro hope to go with this?

Initially, the company intends to hand-build the Mk_1 at its facility in East Kilbride outside Glasgow, less than 20 miles, coincidentally, from Linwood. Production of 250 units a year is envisaged at first, but after the company moves to a new facility elsewhere in Scotland and incorporates more in the way of computerised manufacturing and robotics, it hopes it can ramp up to 2,500 vehicles a year with plans to enter the EU and US markets using legislation which exists to allow low-volume car makers gain a foothold.

Any word on pricing?

The Mk_1 starts from £49,995, which, given its claimed abilities, seems pretty reasonable.

David Mullen - 7 Dec 2022

2023 Munro MK_1. Image by Munro.2023 Munro MK_1. Image by Munro.2023 Munro MK_1. Image by Munro.2023 Munro MK_1. Image by Munro.2023 Munro MK_1. Image by Munro.

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