CAR manufacturing is going to return to Scotland for the first time in more than 40 years – thanks to a rugged all-terrain EV.
The 1981 closure of Rootes’ Hillman Imp factory in Linwood, Renfrewshire, marked the end of an era for the Scottish motor industry.
Now the rebirth of vehicle production lines north of the Border is on the horizon because of the success of the Munro 4×4 concept SUV.
The brainchild of two entrepreneurs, this phenomenal go-anywhere electric vehicle promises a new era in off-road capability.
Munro Vehicles co-founders Russ Peterson and Ross Anderson began to realise their dream to build an electric 4×4 vehicle “without limitations” three years ago and have been quietly perfecting their concept machine.
But despite keeping a low media profile, the prowess of the East Kilbride-based outfit’s prototype is already raising the eyebrows of Aussie sheep farmers, who could soon be knocking on the Glasgow factory door.
Russ said: “Our mission was simple – design and build the greatest all-terrain all-electric vehicle. We could see there were markets for such a concept in farming, mining, mountain rescue and forestry – indeed anywhere that makes the ultimate demand on a permanent 4×4. But it had to have an all-electric powertrain.”
The team has designed the Munro to reach some of the wildest and most rugged parts of the world – for example, the electrical components are completely protected against water and dust, and have few service requirements.
Standard specification includes a 215hp motor powered by a lightweight 52kWh battery pack that provides a range of at least 150 miles.
A DC rapid charger will fill the batteries from 20 to 80 per cent in roughly 30 minutes, while AC charging at home or at the workplace is also possible. A two-speed transfer box, lockable differentials and rigid axles provide permanent four-wheel drive.
The galvanised chassis – based on a Foers Ibex – is made from much thicker material than used on rivals and the body has excellent approach and departure angles.
The high wheel arches allow for uncompromised axle articulation and the possibility of fitting up to 37in tyres. And while there are five seats in the cabin, the Munro has a one-tonne payload, with the rear utility area having a 1250-litre cargo capacity that can hold a pallet.
Rigorous testing on one of the most demanding specially designed terrains in Winton, Lanarkshire, proved the Munro 4×4 lived up to expectations – it had all the credentials.
With a uniquely designed 4×4 drivetrain and suspension system, it goes where other off-road rivals simply dare not lay their treads.
Looking to the future, Russ added: “Now that this prototype has delivered such amazing results, it is our intention to build the first run of four or five vehicles that are already on order from a select few customers.
“They have agreed to allow us to proceed with further pre-production evaluation in a range of off-road settings ahead of full vehicle manufacturing starting next year.
“We will continue with further development of the vehicle, its variations in styles and practical applications to meet a range of important markets.”
The co-founders have confirmed that, following the next stage of their project development, production of up to 1000 vehicles per year will begin on their Glasgow factory assembly line in 2023.
The Munro 4×4 concept already has its supporters – Oxford-based Off-Road Electric has been quick to sign up to become Munro Vehicles’ first UK dealership.
And Jen Walls, director of the influential Electric Vehicle Association Scotland, said: “This level of innovative thinking by these two entrepreneurs is exactly what we wish to see here in Scotland.
“The Munro 4×4 is a truly unique concept, bring together the latest EV and off-road technologies. It’s amazing and I look forward to a test drive soon.”
Visit www.munro-ev.com to find out more.