Someday, the internal combustion engine will be gone and cars will be propelled only by electric motors. It’s still a long way off but it will eventually happen. While roadgoing cars will be fully electric, what then will happen to off-road vehicles? These vehicles travel long distances over very rough terrain where charging stations are unlikely to be set up. What will be the future of such vehicles?
Munro Vehicles, Scotland’s only volume production motor vehicle company, is already developing a fully electric off-road vehicle, the Munro MK_1, which it says is ‘the world’s most capable all-electric 4×4’. Capable of effortlessly transporting a crew of 5 to the most rugged locations, accommodating an 1000-kg payload and 3500-kg towing capacity, the Munro represents the ultimate, sustainable, utilitarian, off-road workhorse.
Munro was established just three years ago with the aim of manufacturing a vehicle like the Munro Mk_1. As a specialist manufacturer, it can be totally focussed on developing a product for a specific purpose, in this case, to travel across the most challenging terrain with an electric powertrain.
The Munro combines a state-of-the-art 220-kW or 280-kW electric powertrain with a proven, robust, simple-to-maintain mechanical driveline for uncompromised off-road ability. Off-highway performance is prioritised, along with reliability, ease-of-repair and longevity.
Customers can choose either a 61 kWh and 82 kWh battery pack which can give a maximum range claimed to be around 300 kms or off-road operation for up to 16 hours on a single battery charge. The battery packs use lithium NMC battery modules mounted in 3 heavy-duty aluminium boxes underneath the vehicle. This arrangement ensures it is quick, convenient, and inexpensive to replace individual battery modules if required.
A fully integrated heat pump-based thermal management system bolsters efficiency, and the Munro’s battery pack is guaranteed to deliver 80% of its original energy capacity for at least 8 years and 160,000 kms.
There are two AC charging options – 7 kW to replenish the battery overnight, and 22 kW, which provides a full charge in around 3.5 hours. An industry-standard DC CCS charger is also provided, enabling the battery to be replenished in just over 30 minutes.
Replaceable battery pack
“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. 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. This has the added benefit of guaranteeing the future value of our customers’ vehicles,” explained Ross Anderson, Head of Powertrain and co-founder of the company. “We will partner with companies specialising in reuse and recycling to recoup the residual value of the battery pack, which will enable us to fit the latest battery technology at a reasonable cost.”
The Munro also features a heavy-duty mechanical braking system. Utilising non-vented as opposed to vented discs avoids any potential drop-off in performance due to mud clogging the ventilation spaces within the discs.
The vehicle sits on a galvanised steel ladder chassis. Constructed with 5 mm thick steel – compared with 1.5 mm thick steel used in many 4X4s – the chassis has been developed to provide the ultimate combination of strength, robustness, and ease of repairability. The vehicle’s off-road prowess is further enhanced by 480 mm ground clearance, and the ability to wade through water up to a depth of 800 mm.
As with traditional off-road vehicle, the Munro has a structural aluminium body-on-frame design, with the 5-door body mounted to the chassis at 8 points. To ensure optimum suitability for customers’ needs, there’s a choice of mounting options. Rubber mounts reduce NVH on the road and provide a more comfortable ride, while solid aluminium spacers give greater rigidity and strength to accommodate heavy payloads.
Occupant safety off-road was a key priority for the team when developing the Munro. Thanks to the high-strength steel body and frame, the vehicle provides full Roll Over Protection (ROP). Optional roof-strengthening is also available for Falling Object Protection (FOP).
Priced from £49,995 (around RM268,000), each Munro will be hand built with production to start in 2023. Initial production will start at 250 units a year, eventually rising to 2,500 units. Vehicles will also be offered for global ex-works export, but customers or importers would have to manage local type approval in their own markets.