Munro MK_1 Is A Hardcore EV Off-Roader Built To Last 50 Years

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The Scottish off-roader may need a few batteries during its lifespan, however.

The first Scottish manufacturer in more than four decades has been teasing us with tidbits of information about its new EV for weeks, but here it is in all its simplistic glory. This is the Munro MK_1, and it's a no-nonsense electric workhorse.

Munro claims it's the most capable fully electric 4x4 there is, and it was made to tackle the harshest terrain for up to 16 hours on a single charge.

As you can see from the styling, there is no styling. It's a box because that's the easiest shape to stamp out of metal. It has lights at the front and more lights at the rear, because they're legally required, and there are doors so people can get in and out. We love it because it so perfectly fits in with Munro's mission statement, which is to provide the ultimate sustainable workhorse.


Single-Motor Powertrain Only

It was built for locations that require a robust, simple drivetrain that can clamber over almost everything. Since Munro started teasing this thing, it has been open about the fact that it's aimed at construction, agriculture, mining, environmental, emergency rescue, remote infrastructure maintenance, and recreation. We suspect the latter is included because some folks with too much money will want one simply because its simplicity oozes a certain charisma, much like the original Range Rover and its humble beginnings.

The MK_1 was born out of a journey in an ICE 4x4. The two owners of Munro, Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson, were off-roading at heights above 3,000 feet, at which point the internal combustion engine was suffering from altitude sickness. They wondered how much better it would be with an electric motor doing the hard work.


"It dawned on us that there was a gap in the market for an electric-powered, four-wheel-drive, utilitarian workhorse," said Peterson. "We envisioned a vehicle with ultimate, go-anywhere, off-road ability, unrestricted by road-derived underpinnings that limit the all-terrain ability of vehicles such as the 4x4 pick-up trucks that have come to dominate the market."

Unlike most EVs, the Munro uses an axial flux electric motor. It's more expensive to produce due to a high degree of hand assembly, but it weighs 50% less and is much smaller. The size of the electric motor meant it could be mounted between the two front-seat occupants in front of the vehicle's bulkhead.

Another benefit is the axial motor's rotational rate. Normal EV motors rotate up to 15,000 rpm, requiring a reduction drive unit. The motor in the MK_1 spins between 5,000 to 8,000 rpm, so it doesn't need one, once again saving weight and complexity. The motor provides drive to a two-speed transfer case which allows it to operate in two driving modes: Drive and Off-Road.


"A further benefit of the axial flux motor is that it generates exceptionally high amounts of torque when running in reverse," explains Anderson. "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 low-gear, Off-Road setting, the regenerative braking is much more pronounced."

Anderson says that not only does this enable one-pedal driving, but mitigates the need for a dedicated hill-descent mode, reducing complexity even further.

The no-nonsense attitude is carried over to the brakes, which aren't ventilated. Why? Because mud would just get into the ventilation spaces, which would be a pain to clean out.


But Two Power Options

Customers can choose between 220 kW (295 horsepower) and 280 kW (375 hp) electric motors and two battery pack options. There's a basic 61 kWh and an 82 kWh option. The latter provides a claimed range of 190 miles, but that's not the lingo owners will use. Munro prefers to say that it can off-road for up to 16 hours on a single charge - which equates to an average speed of 11.9 mph).

The top speed for the 280 kW motor version is capped at 80 mph. It can get from 0-62 mph in 4.9 seconds, though Munro is quick to point out that this is hardly the point of the car. A torque rating of 516 lb-ft is available up to 50 mph.

Why is there no dual-motor setup? Once again, for simplicity. Munro didn't want any computers involved in the torque split, which is why it runs a single motor and an old-school mechanical 4WD system.


The battery packs are made up of 35 state-of-the-art Lithium NMC battery modules mounted in three heavy-duty aluminum boxes underneath the vehicle. These boxes can easily be replaced, but Munro guarantees the MK_1 will still deliver 80% of its original capacity after eight years and 100,000 miles.

"With your average electric vehicle, the battery is designed to last the life of the car, so in most cases, customers will never have to worry about replacing it," claims Anderson. "But because the Munro is engineered to last several decades, we will either recondition or replace the battery pack for customers when the time comes."

Two AC charging options are available. The 7 kW will recharge the car overnight, while a 22 kW charger will charge it from flat to 100% in three and a half hours. DC fast charging is also available, so the battery can be replenished in 30 minutes.

This mobile box sits on a galvanized steel ladder constructed from 5 mm steel. It's Munro's design and not based on any existing car.

"The engineering is unashamedly agricultural in nature," said Peterson, who comes from a farming background and ran his own contracting business. "Some people see the term agricultural as potentially derogatory, but at Munro, we certainly don't. Munro is more interested in longevity and expects this EV to last for up to 50 years.


Impressive Off-Road Figures

The MK_1 comes with an impressive set of off-road figures. It has an 18.8-inch ground clearance and can wade through 31 inches of water. The 84- and 51-degree approach and departure angles are unheard of. The claimed breakover angle is 32 degrees.

"From the outset, we wanted to create an electric-powered off-road vehicle that would perform without compromise in any condition. But we also wanted to design a vehicle that provides a high level of space and comfort for a full crew and all their kit," said Ross Compton, head of design. "So, a five-door, five-seat body, with a class-leading 130-inch wheelbase, was a given from the start."

While off-roading, the Munro can carry a payload of 2,200 pounds and tow up to 7,700 lbs.

Munro Vehicles
Munro Vehicles

A Spartan Interior

The best option Munro offers is a choice between mounting points. The rubber mounts reduce NVH levels, while the solid aluminum spacers give greater rigidity.

Interior luxuries include seats and thick plywood in the cargo area, so you don't have to worry about scratching the interior. There are also storage spaces called "saddle bags," designed to keep stuff dry. LED lights illuminate the interior, and a double-DIN touchscreen interface with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and six speakers can be added at no extra charge.

As for safety, Munro reckons the construction is strong enough to withstand a rollover. Munro offers Falling Object Protection as an optional extra if you're worried about the stuff falling out of the sky, but doesn't go into specifics on what exactly the package adds.


An Intriguing Price

In the five-door, five-seat, 130-inch wheelbase Utility guise, which we assume is the smaller battery combined with the smaller motor, the Munro sells for £49,995, which, at the time of writing, equates to $61,228. Until Rivian builds a bare-bones R1S for the same agricultural purposes, the MK_1 has no direct rival.

Munro says it has already received deposits from customers in the UK, Switzerland, St. Lucia, and Dubai. Several pre-sale agreements have been reached with fleet operators in key industries.

The wait will likely be long, however. Because Munro is so small, it can only start hand-building MK_1s from next year. It will only move to a larger facility in 2024, allowing it to produce more than 250 units per year, aiming for an eventual 2,500 units per year.


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