The Munro MK_1 is a £60k all-electric Defender rival
Scottish 4x4 gets 280kW powertrain and 'up to 16 hours' of use on a single charge
Munro Vehicles has revealed its first off-road electric vehicle, the MK_1, bringing automotive manufacturing back to Scotland for the first time in over four decades.
The MK_1 is a five seat, all-electric utility vehicle designed for off-road performance. Munro’s CEO Russell Peterson suggests to “think of it more like a piece of machinery than a car".
The entry-level, aptly named 'Utility' model, starting from £49,995 (excluding VAT) has a 61.2kWh battery paired with a 220kW electric motor. It’s expected to have a range of 141 miles or 12 hours running time and has a maximum payload of up to 1,000kg, supported by 443lb ft of torque.
Add another £10,000 for the Range version and you get 186 miles or 16 hours running time and an 82.4kWh battery with a 220kW/295bhp electric motor. As the vehicle is designed for rugged off-road pursuits, 0-60mph times aren’t groundbreaking unless you go for the top of the range Performance model.
Coming in at 4.9 seconds with a top speed of 80mph, Performance maxes out with a 280kW/375bhp electric motor, delivering 516lb ft of torque. This means the top spec is capable of towing up to 3,500kg, with pricing from £69,995 before VAT.
Munro co-founder Ross Anderson emphasises the MK_1’s off-roadness with a note that “if you’re 99 per cent on the road, the MK_1 is probably not for you”. For the UK market it’s mainly targeted at agricultural applications but the firm is also setting its sights on North American clients in mining, forestry and construction.
In theory, the MK_1 is designed to last around 50 years with regular maintenance and servicing. Peterson says “nothing on this vehicle is without purpose, it's a workhorse built to last, we’re not jumping on an EV bandwagon".
The vehicle is currently in a small production phase which means the front and rear axles can sit extremely close to the edge of the vehicle and still qualify to be road legal. The benefit of this is a significant increase in its angle of approach and departure at 84 and 51 degrees. Ground clearance is 480mm and if you’re brave enough, it should wade up to 800mm.
Inside, the interior is stripped back to essential controls that are all standard, waterproof buttons that can be easily replaced. The vehicle is designed to be hard wearing but easily repairable with several standard components throughout, which contribute to lower production and maintenance costs.
For your tech, there’s two USB C ports, two wireless charging pads and two three-pin plug points in the centre console. On the dash is a small touchscreen that’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
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To keep the battery topped up there’s the option of AC charging that can deliver a full charge in three and a half hours or DC charging that’ll top it up in just over half an hour. The battery pack itself is guaranteed to deliver 80 per cent of its original capacity for at least eight years or 100,000 miles, after which time it can be reconditioned or replaced by Munro.
Anderson describes the five year/100,000 mile vehicle warranty as “super flexible", explaining that customers can repair and maintain their vehicles without invalidating their warranty.
With a wheelbase of 3.3m the MK_1 can accommodate five adults and a Euro size pallet in the cargo area. In the back the load bay has a plywood floor with aluminium tracks and hooks to hold up to 400kg in place. Petersen said “our customers should be able to throw things in the back without feeling bad".
To handle extreme terrain the MK_1 has a permanent mechanical four-wheel drive system, linked to a transfer case and differential. This facilitates power delivery to any wheel if the vehicle loses traction. Munro has opted for a two-speed transmission still fairly unusual for EVs, seen in the likes of the Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron GT.
Anderson explained they chose an axial flux motor to reduce weight by 40kg and provide greater control of the vehicle at low speeds. “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 the 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".
In 2023 Munro is set to reveal a pick-up version of the MK_1 with other iterations including single cab, six wheeler and flatbed models all in the pipeline. Next year, 50 units will be produced at Munro’s East Kilbride site before moving to a purpose built facility in central Scotland in 2024 to scale up production to 2,500 vehicles a year by 2027.