The transition to electric vehicles is not only enabling a new generation of automakers to get their start, but it is also bringing automobile production to places that haven’t had it before. An example is Munro Vehicles, which plans to build its Mk 1 off-road vehicle in Glasgow, Scotland.
If successful, the Munro will be the first light vehicle to enter production in Scotland in more than four decades, following the 1981 idling of a Peugeot-Talbot plant in Linwood, just outside Glasgow.
Munro recently unveiled its first vehicle, called the Munro Mk 1. The new entry in the burgeoning EV truck market might easily be mistaken for the erstwhile Bollinger B1, or a Fering Pioneer, or an Ineos Grenadier, or honestly even the GMC Hummer.
All are designed around the uber-boxy and macho looks that characterized the early Land Rover and Jeep off-road vehicles. It follows that Munro tapped Ross Compton to be their Head of Design. Compton previously led projects at Bollinger Motors and Atlis Motor Vehicles.
So what’s new?
According to Munro’s principals, there are several distinctions that will make the Mk 1 stand out from the competition. Munro says the 280-kW powertrain will use a single lower-speed axial flux electric motor — oddly, no mention was made of any kind of flux capacitor to enable time travel.
Munro said the benefit of the axial flux, or “pancake,” motor is weight and size reduction, which enables motor placement entirely behind the front axle line for better balance.
“Axial flux electric motors are rarely used in the automotive mass-manufacture sector, where radial flux motors dominate,” said Ross Anderson, Munro’s head of powertrain. “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.”
The company also pointed out that the Munro’s axial motor spins between 5,000 and 8,000 rpm, eliminating the need for a reduction drive. The motor will be connected directly to a 2-speed transmission and transfer case. Munro says the Mk 1 will hit 62 mph in 4.9 seconds, with a top speed of 80 mph.
“Peak torque of 700Nm is available up to 50 mph,” Anderson said, “which ensures excellent response off-road. It also means the Munro can effortlessly tow a braked trailer up to 3500kg (7,700 pounds).”
Munro plans a choice of two electric motors rated at 220 kW and 280 kW, and two battery packs at 61 kWh and 82 kWh, affording an optimum range of up 190 miles. Munro’s battery pack is warranted to deliver at least 80% of its original energy capacity for at least eight years and 100,000 miles. Munro will offer 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 charging port will also be provided.
Perhaps most importantly, the starting price for the Munro was announced as £49,995, which works out to $60,908 at the current exchange rate. If the Munro is actually made available at that price, it will dramatically undercut the competition listed above.
The lower price point can be attributed to the single motor, comparatively short range, and the fact that the Munro will be built on a traditional steel ladder frame instead of a “skateboard” platform popular among other EV makers. Munro builds its own axles and uses a combination of aftermarket and motorsport-derived components for the rest of the mechanical driveline.
“The engineering is unashamedly agricultural in nature,” explains Munro CEO Russell Peterson, who comes from a farming background. “Some people see the term agricultural as potentially derogatory, but at Munro, we certainly don’t.”
What’s the plan?
Munro launched in 2019 with private funding provided by Anderson and Peterson. A further injection of capital was raised in late 2021 by London-based Elbow Beach Capital, which invests exclusively in early-stage technology businesses.
To make its market entry, Munro plans to hand-build about 50 pre-ordered vehicles in 2023, and then in 2024 the company will expand from its current headquarters in East Kilbride to a new purpose-built factory in central Scotland. There the plan for production is to scale from about 250 vehicles per year in 2024 up to 2,500 per year by 2027.
For distribution, Munro plans to select a series of sellers but will not establish a formal dealer network. Each Munro vehicle will carry a 5-year/100,000-mile general warranty, which Anderson describes as “super flexible.” The battery warranty will accommodate the longer 8-year/100,000-mile battery warranty periods required by U.S. Federal law, and will hopefully be flexible enough to meet California’s 10-year/150,000-mile battery warranty requirement.