An all-electric 4x4 designed specifically for some of the dirtiest all-terrain work is set to become the first light vehicle manufactured in Scotland in more than four decades.

The co-founders of Munro are looking to raise approximately £15 million to set up a larger factory in central Scotland following Monday's first viewing of the Munro MK_1.

Engineered to allow sectors such forestry to decarbonise, the vehicle features a 1,000kg payload, 3,500kg towing capacity, and a 16 hour off-road duty cycle on a single battery charge.

READ MORE: Timhaul: Battery-powered trucks to deliver timber across Scotland

Currently based in East Kilbride, Munro was set up in 2019 by chief executive Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson, the company’s head of powertrain. Mr Peterson, who previously ran a software business in Edinburgh, said the venture began very much as a “hobby project” during an off-road camping trip in the Highlands.

“We had already taken measures to reduce our own environmental footprints and had a lot of experience driving our own EV, and got quite used to the instant torque delivery,” he said. “But the off-roader we were driving through the Highlands was combustion-engined, and it was really struggling on the steep climbs, so we were musing how much better it would be with an electric motor.

Forestry Journal: Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson set up Munro Vehicles in 2019Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson set up Munro Vehicles in 2019 (Image: Munro Vehicles)

“On the return journey, we stopped at a café in Braemar, where a bank of 50kW rapid chargers were sitting empty and unused. Parked up nearby was a large group of combustion-engined safari adventure 4x4s of a type that are no longer manufactured and will have to be replaced eventually. It dawned on us that there was a gap in the market for an electric-powered, four-wheel-drive, utilitarian workhorse.”

Munro has taken orders for about 45 vehicles to be delivered next year and is looking to expand into a purpose-built facility in 2024 with capacity to produce up to 2,500 units annually. Mr Peterson said the company expects to add 15 people to its current workforce of eight during the next six months, and ultimately aims to employ 300 people.

“We are trying to get there for 2027,” he said. “It really depends on market adoption and uptake.”

Work on its first pre-production vehicles will begin in the second quarter of next year, making Munro the first automotive manufacturer to build cars in Scotland since Peugeot-Talbot closed its Linwood plant in 1981.

Munro is currently in the middle of a Series A funding round to raise about £15m from a mixture of private investment and public funding, having earlier this year secured its first equity injection of £750,000 from Elbow Beach Capital. Mr Peterson and Mr Anderson currently remain majority shareholders.

“Elbow Beach totally got our mission, and they are also about finding solutions for agriculture and other carbon-intensive industries,” Mr Peterson said. “They knocked on the door and we weren’t really looking for funding but then we both had exactly the same mission, so it made sense to collaborate.”

The company is looking for a larger site in need of “rejuvenation” to keep the carbon impact of its new facility at a minimum. A couple of sites in central Scotland are currently under consideration, where Mr Peterson believes there is an “under-utilised” manufacturing workforce that would be attracted by the prospect of “exercising their creativity”.

Forestry Journal: The Munro MK_1The Munro MK_1 (Image: Munro Vehicles)

“We believe the supply chain is definitely maturing in the sectors we are in,” he said. “When you look at battery technology for example, there are local suppliers now that are looking into supplying lithium-ion batteries, so we think the supply chain is there and we think the workforce is there as well.”

The company has received orders from the UK, Switzerland, St Lucia, and Dubai, and has several pre-sale agreements with industry fleet operators. There has been strong initial interest from energy suppliers in particular.

“These diesel pickup trucks are killing our CO2 targets, and there is just no production-ready alternative, and that’s where we see the gap,” Mr Peterson said. “A lot of these utility companies, if they don’t need the off-road ability, they’ve already replaced it with an electric van.”

This article originally appeared in our sister title, The Herald.