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Scaling the Munro: Scotland’s first 4×4 EV

The prototype Munro 4x4 electric vehicle, made in Scotland.
The prototype Munro 4x4 electric vehicle, made in Scotland.

Say hello to the Munro – the first fully-electric 4×4 designed and built in the UK… And it’s Scottish.

It bears more than a passing resemblance to the iconic Land Rover Defender but it is an individual beast with enough charge to put in a full day’s work in the toughest conditions.

The creation of this sturdy Scots off-roader started with a camping holiday in the Highlands which, for most of us, would normally be a relaxing affair and the chance to take a fresh air break.

But for entrepreneurial pair Russ Peterson and Ross Anderson their chance to recharge their batteries got them thinking about exactly that.

Plugging the gap left by the Defender

And no doubt the mountainous scenery gave them the inspiration for the name of their idea of a rugged electrically-powered 4×4 aimed directly at the farming, forestry and mining industries which rely on all-terrain vehicles for their daily business.

The Munro Mark 1 will literally plug the gap left by the demise of the iconic Land Rover Defender but bringing it bang up-to-date, replacing the internal combustion engine with a full electric powertrain.

That comprises a 52kWh battery pack and an AC motor with an impressive 215bhp of power and a useful 350Nm of torque which, under normal driving conditions provides a maximum range of 150 miles on a full charge.

Enough charge for a full working day

That may not seem much but with lower speed off-road country driving the Munro team believes that could provide something like 50 hours of operation which means a farmer checking crops, moving livestock or repairing fences shouldn’t have to recharge at all during a working day.

DC rapid charging comes as standard, meaning the battery can be topped up to 80 percent capacity in just 30 minutes.

The creators originally thought of converting a conventional Land Rover to electric, but soon decided the best direction was to build a completely new vehicle instead.

The Munro will be the first fully-electric 4×4 designed and built entirely in the UK. Peterson previously set up a successful software development agency in Edinburgh and built off-road vehicles as a hobby for many years, while Anderson originally trained as a radiographer.

However, with an interest in sustainability and physics, his responsibility is the Munro’s performance, traction, energy storage and charging systems.

Russ Peterson.

They’ve gathered a team of experts at the East Kilbride base of their All Terrain All Electric (ATAE) company and have been given a £750,000 investment by Elbow Beach Capital, which backs sustainability and social impact enterprises.

Versatility and performance

They believe there are opportunities to de-carbonise vehicle fleets in the UK’s mining, forestry and agriculture industries where more than 220,000 farms and 2,000 active mines use off-road vehicles as a crucial part of their operations.

Elbow’s investment has helped develop a prototype which they say has been “incredibly impressive” in its versatility and performance in challenging conditions.

The final production version will cost £65,000 plus VAT and sales and service will all be handled online without a dealer network.

The order book is already open with first deliveries expected in mid-2023 with an international roll-out two years later.

It certainly looks tough with a rugged body and basic ladder galvanised chassis from a Yorkshire company, live front and rear axles, permanent four-wheel-drive, locking differentials and a two-speed transfer gearbox.

It uses existing readily-available brake and suspension parts from UK manufacturers, rather than designing new ones, which means maintenance should be easy while minimising the carbon footprint and supporting the UK economy.

We’ll be a niche vehicle builder but by using existing supply chains we can keep costs at a reasonable level

An off-road testing programme is well under way and the company says production will start next year, initially building 50 vehicles a year but rising to 1,000 a year and 5,000 annually at full capacity by 2030… and creating around 300 jobs in the process.

Final details of the vehicle are still to be confirmed but it’s likely to be a five-seater with a wipe-down dashboard and chunky buttons, optional extras like roof racks, underbody protection panels, upgraded suspension and larger off-road tyres and there’s even the chance of a six-wheeled version.

It will have a maximum payload of 1,000kg and more than 1,250 litres of cargo space which is big enough for a pallet.

Posted by Roy Duffy Photography on Wednesday, 4 May 2022

Russ Peterson says EVs are naturally best-suited to country lifestyles and lower speed driving which uses less energy than motorway cruising.

He add that most rural businesses can easily install chargers to power up the vehicle overnight.

So why have some of the major manufacturers not gone down this off-road EV route?

Russ says: “The perceived market is too small for large-scale production and needs a dedicated niche company truly focused on specific customer demands.

“We’ll be a niche vehicle builder but by using existing supply chains we can keep costs at a reasonable level.”

It’s certainly going to appeal to farmers and 4×4 enthusiasts are likely to follow. Munro may have a mountain to climb, but they’re already taking some big steps on the way up.

The Munro

Model: Munro Mark 1
Price: £65,000 + VAT
Engine: 52 kWh battery/permanent-magnet AC motor
Power: 215 bhp
Torque: 350 Nm
Range: 150 miles
Charging time: 30 mins DC Rapid

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