Up until the 2020s Ford took a tangential interest in electric vehicles in the UK – limited development of its own, and provision of base vehicles for others to convert to battery power. A possible exception was the Ford Transit Connect electric, which was developed in the United States with Azure Dynamics, and was potentially going to be available in Britain from June 2011. But none were sold.
That stance changed in 2022 with the announcement of a full production version of its immensely successful Transit van, and a commitment that by 2035 its commercial range will be entirely battery-powered. If that sounded a long way off, Ford declared an ambition to build 600,000 commercial electrics by 2026.
Originally developed in the UK and West Germany in the 1960s, the Transit is now a global product and vans for the British market are built by Ford Otosan in Turkiye. The first electric Transit model announced (in March 2022) was the E-Transit, aimed at the 3.5 t to 4.25 t GVW sector. European orders were being taken from May and Ford unveiled the E-Transit in the UK in September.
Despite being one of the world’s biggest van producers, Ford took its time making a full commitment to go electric. It was the market leader in Europe and realised that it had to get its electric van exactly right if it was to maintain this position.
Much of the development of the E-Transit took place in Dunston, Essex, which is a global centre for Ford’s commercial vehicle research and development.
The E-Transit emphasised power as well as range. There was a choice of 135 kW and 198 kW motors, and a range up to 196 miles. The 60 kWh battery used the same technology employed on Ford’s electric Mustang Mach E SUV, hence the ability to install such a powerful motor.
The maximum possible payload was 1,758 kg and interior payload volumes extended from 9.5 cu m to 15.1 cu m, depending on the specification chosen. 25 variants were available, with combinations of length and height, and in panel van, double cab in van (with a second row of seats) and chassis-cab format.
Externally, the E-Transit looked very much like its ICE siblings. Detail changes were made to improve the aerodynamics and the radiator grille was replaced with a distinctive panel with electric blue trim and a hatch containing the re-charging socket.
Among the factory-approved conversions available, there were a refrigerated box body, powered by 2.3kW ProPower on-board supply, a drop-side for construction applications, and a caged tipper to carry refuse.
The battery pack was mounted amidships and the motor is rear-mounted, driving the rear wheels. For packaging reasons, the leaf springs on the diesel Transit were replaced with an independent rear suspension set-up. The van also features the ProPower socket enabling craft tools and other gear to be powered from the vehicle battery (useful at remote work locations).
The whole electric Transit range features Ford Pro telematics and connectivity. This would permit operators to monitor vehicle usage in real time, spot problems early, and optimise charging and range management regimes.
AC and DC charging were offered. The 11.3kW on-board AC charger could completely recharge the battery in just over eight hours. Connecting to a 115kW DC rapid charger could take the battery from 15% to 80% charge in just over half an hour.
Much of the development of the E-Transit was done in Britain, at Ford’s global centre of commercial excellence in Dunton, Essex. Ten prototypes were put through extensive road and track tests, including in the most extreme climatic conditions. Vans were also placed in trails for six or twelve months with existing Ford customers such as Balfour Beatty, DHL Express, DPD and Ocado.
In May 2022 the E-Transit Custom was announced. This offered up to 236 miles of range. One feature was ProPower Onboard technology that provided electric power for tools, lights and other equipment while on site. Production was forecast to begin in the second half of 2023.
The smaller E-Transit Courier was expected to be introduced in 2024. In July 2022, Ford announced that its Craiova factory in Romania would be transferred to the ownership of Ford Otosan and become a major centre for the production of electric commercial vehicles. It will be the home of the Transit Courier range.
Ford Pro is a new division which was set up to manage Ford’s commercial van business. At its heart is a suite of services aimed at helping businesses get the most from running Ford products and an important element could be working with them on a transition to an all-electric fleet. That includes proprietary vehicle telematics and charging software.
In 2022, the City of London, Ford Pro and DHL sponsored a trial using E-Transits moving fresh seafood from Billingsgate Market to commercial customers in central London. The aims were to reduce emissions by going electric and cut vehicle mileage by having forty traders share space in vans rather than employing their own vehicles. Ford Pro provided the vehicles, software and servicing support, and DHL lent its expertise in optimising supply chains. Over 18 weeks it was estimated that carbon emissions fell by 37% compared with use of ICE, helped by a reduction of 15,000 miles of driving through more efficient van use.
When the great markets of Billingsgate, Smithfield and New Spitalfields all relocate to Dagenham Docks, a full electric vehicle charging infrastructure will already be installed.
In December 2022, Deutsche Post DHL Group signed a deal with Ford Pro to deliver 2,000 2 t E-Transits during 2023. A share of those vehicles could be expected to be heading for the UK.
As part of the marketing campaign for the E-Transit, Ford Pro decided to provide an E-Transit for use by traders along Brixton’s Electric Avenue. They would be able to book use of the van. Ford hoped the experience would convince traders to switch over to electric vans entirely by 2030 (and that they will choose Fords of course).
Fuso is a Japanese truck builder now substantially owned by Daimler AG. Its Canter light truck was made available in a fully electric format in 2016, and for European customers the model is built in Tramagal, Portugal. Fuso claim this to be the world’s first all-electric light truck although plainly this is not so – the Leyland-W&E Electric Terrier went into production in the 1980s for example.
The eCanter is produced as a chassis cab and is rated at 7.5 t GVW, offering a body plus payload allowance of 4.63 t. It has a modular water-cooled lithium-ion 420 V battery which can contain up to six 14 kWh units, depending on the customer’s requirements, giving a range of up to 100 km. The units are dispersed in the wheelbase, either side of the chassis frame and inside it. The 185 kW, 380 Nm permanent synchronous motor transmits power to the rear axle through an automatic gearbox.
The cab is well-appointed, with air conditioning and an infotainment system, and there is even cruise control.
Since its sale of Vauxhall to Groupe PSA (which subsequently became part of Stellantis) in 2017, General Motors has not manufactured any vehicles in the UK and has sold very few. However, it has been busy on electric vehicle development in the US and it is possible some of its products might find their way to the UK in time.
The principal effort around commercial vehicles has been BrightDrop. This is a new subsidiary set up to develop a range of delivery vans and warehouse pallets. The van range is based on GM’s Ultima electric powertrain architecture, and the prototype was unveiled in January 2021.
The production models come in two basic formats. The BrightDrop Zevo 600 has a payload of about 1 t and 600 cu ft of cargo space. A range of 250 miles is claimed. The shorter Zevo 400 has 410 cu ft of load room.
By the end of 2021, BrightDrop had over 25,000 production slots allocated for its Zevo 400 and Zevo 600 models. FedEx has reserved 2,500 whilst Walmart was interested in acquiring up to 5,000 and Merchants Fleet (a vehicle leasing company) up to 18,000.
The first production units entered service with FedEx in December 2021. By June 2022, 150 were in use in Southern California.
Recalling the kinds of durability trials manufacturers subjected their battery electrics to a century ago, in order to prove their credentials, in early 2022 GM broke the record for how far an electric van would go on a single charge. The BrightDrop Zevo 600, operated by FedEx, covered 260 miles, taking it from New York City to Washington DC, earning it a place in the Guinness Book of Records. It was loaded with a consignment of sustainable cleaning products.
Whilst the BrightDrop epitomises the practical side of commercial vehicle operation, certain businesses may be attracted to a more muscular member of GM’s stable – the Hummer EV.
GM launched the all-electric Hummer EV in 2021, almost twenty years after the controversial Hummer H2 hit the streets. It retained the its predecessor’s rugged looks and boasted even more adrenalin-pumping performance. That included a 0-60 mph acceleration time of 3.3 seconds, thanks to its 1,000 hp motor and 1,200 lb ft of torque.
A UK importer was appointed, and the first example arrived in Britain in late 2022. It was offered solely as a pick-up, albeit with two rows of seats in the cab, and thus technically qualifies as a commercial truck. However, with a price on the UK streets of over £300,000 it is unlikely to see too many sales to fleets or sole traders.
Goupil electric vehicles are built in south west France. The company’s emphasis is on smaller vehicles intended specifically for light delivery work and practical jobs like municipal applications. They are distributed in the UK by Bradshaw Electric Vehicles and FTS Forktruck Solutions.
The company was formed in 1996 and the present range began with the Goupil G4. This is a forward control chassis cab, with room for a passenger, and a payload up to one tonne. A variety of bodies are available such as a dropside, a van and a refuse collector. Brighton Corporation bought a fleet of three in 2020 with caged tipper bodies and payloads of 763 kg.
The G5 was similar to the G4 but with a bigger cab and a slightly smaller payload.
The Goupil G2 followed in 2019. This is a compact driver-only normal control chassis cab vehicle with a payload capacity up to 600 kg.
The Goupil G6 arrived in 2020 to complete the current range. It is a front-wheel-drive normal-control machine with room in the cab for three people. This layout permits a low chassis height. The payload can be up to 1,150 kg.
Ineos is a British chemicals firm founded by Sir Jim Radcliffe. In 2017 Ineos Automotive was set up to develop an off-road utility vehicle that would be a closer successor to the Land Rover Defender retired in 2016 than JLR’s own new manifestation of the Defender. Production began in Hambach, France, in 2022.
In 2023 plans were announced to introduce an electric off-roader version with a range of up to 400 km. Design leadership will be in the UK, whilst Magna Steyr will lead the development and production might be in Graz, Austria, where electric SUVs are built from brands like Jaguar and BMW. The launch is anticipated to be in 2026.
The Iveco Daily Electric has been on the UK market for several years and is one of the largest light electric commercial vehicles available. The latest incarnation made its debut in 2016, available as a van, chassis cab, chassis cowl and minibus in 3.5 t and 5 t GVW formats. The modular battery can be specified as one, two or three modules, giving a range between 45 and 135 miles. A 60 kW or 80 kW, 200 Nm motor can be specified offering a top speed from 90 to 130 km/h. The smallest, least powerful configuration was priced in 2018 at around £60,000, going up to £100,000 for the largest model. Overall, the Daily Electric is positioned as expensive but having the ability to carry its full payload over longer distances than competitors.
‘LDV’ originally stood for Leyland DAF Vans, which had been through various incarnations as the van business of British Leyland and its forerunner, BMC. After the collapse of Leyland DAF, and the ending of production in the UK, LDV was eventually taken over by SAIC of China in 2010, and production resumed in Shanghai in 2011. The core vehicle in the range was the Maxus van, jointly developed by LDV and Daewoo of South Korea in the late 1990s. Maxus is now the name of the SAIC van business, but LDV was still used in the UK as the brand name until it was dropped in 2020. Latterly, LDV offered two electric models in the UK, the EV80 and the EV30.
The EV80 was based on the rather elderly Maxus, and offered in large panel van, crew bus, minibus and chassis cab variants, all with a maximum GVW of 3.5 t. Payload was just over one tonne. The EV80 featured a 56 kWh battery, a 100 kW 320 Nm motor, and could achieve a range of about 120 miles on a full charge.
In 2019, LDV unveiled the medium-sized EV30, with a much more modern appearance, and also rated up to 3.5 t GVW. It was conceived as an entirely electric model, not a conversion of a diesel machine. Engineers at SAIC claimed this saved perhaps 20% in the weight of the vehicle structure, which helped it achieve a full one tonne payload. The EV30 featured a 90 kW, 255 Nm motor fed by a battery from CATL – China’s biggest automotive traction battery maker. In 2020 the EV30 was relaunched as the Maxus eDelivery 3.
Ligier is based in central France. Famous for its Formula 1 team which competed for twenty-one seasons from 1976, the firm is now – among other things – building small electric commercial vehicles. The Pulse 3 is a three-wheel electric delivery scooter; the Pulse 4 is a four-wheel utility vehicle.
The Pulse 4 is of interest because a small fleet was acquired by Royal Mail in 2021. This model is forward control, with a simple two-seater cab accessed by rear-hinged doors. The front wheels sit outside the line of the bonnet, giving the Pulse 4 a very distinctive appearance.
The body is mounted on the rear deck, with options including a cargo box with rear shutter and a drop-side. It is available in two lengths (2.6 m or 3.35 m), and can carry two sizes of battery (7.2 kW or 9.6 kW). It is 1.76 m wide and has a payload capacity of up to 600 kg and 2 cu m of load space. A top speed of 45 km/h and a range of up to 150 km are claimed.
Royal Mail began trials of the Ligier, alongside a smaller vehicle from Paxster, in September 2021. The Pulse 4’s retain their French driving position, so that the driver is next to the kerb – making egress safer when on delivery rounds.
LTI Vehicles was the company that built the standard London taxi, at its factory in Coventry. It secured over £600,000 from the UK Energy Saving Trust’s ‘Transport Energy’ new vehicle technology fund. This resulted in the 2004 E-Mercury express delivery van, with a two tonne payload capacity, a range of 100 miles and a top speed of 50 mph. The power train came from Azure Dynamics in Canada. The prototype van had a streamlined cab with its door behind the driver, a cross-walk area, a load deck and then a goods cabinet over the rear axle. A small fleet of the vehicles was to be run in trials with Sheffield City Council.
This work produced much learning that went into the Modec venture (qv).
Lunaz is based at Silverstone, in a part of England most closely associated with Formula One teams. Founded in 2018, its business focussed at first on restoring prestigious classic cars and converting them to electric drive. So it was a notable event when the company announced in May 2002 that its Lunaz Applied Technology unit was going to apply the same thinking to refuse collection vehicles.
At the heart of its philosophy is upcycling – taking existing vehicles with all their embedded carbon, and extending their useful lives by replacing the worn out and polluting ICE driveline with electric drive. That applies just as much to commercial vehicles as it does to classic cars.
The base vehicle for the first Lunaz RCVs was the Mercedes-Benz Econic 6 x 2, although the company can fit its drive system on to practically any platform. The purchase price of an upcycled RCV is claimed to be lower than that of an entirely new electric RCV and the carbon release associated with building many new parts and structures is avoided.
The electric drive technology followed the same concept as that for the cars, but scaled up. Few details have been disclosed except that the battery is modular, and so can be sized to meet individual customers’ route demands from 275 kWh to 400 kWh. Thermal management technology enables range to be extended up to 25%.
The vehicles get upgraded crew accommodation, even using the same seat padding as the firm’s upcycled Rolls-Royces and Bentleys. The mechanical instrument dials have been replaced with a high-definition driving information screen, and cameras are fitted round the vehicle to cover blind spots.
Lunaz RCVs are expected to go on trial with a number of municipal and government operators during 2022. The ambition is to produce as many as 1,100 per year.
In July 2022 Lunaz announced it was expanding its facilities at Silverstone Technology Park, adding 140,000 sq ft of space, and potentially creating 300 additional jobs.
This video gives a neat summary of what Lunaz are up to: Jack Whitehall explains how Lunaz makes upcycled EVs (evpowered.co.uk)
Magtec (Magnetic Systems Technology) was established in 1992 in Sheffield. The firm converts vehicles to run on battery electric power, using its own components. It offers a full drive train package, batteries, controllers, motors and other equipment, for a variety of automotive applications, ranging from 1.5 t vans up to 26 t lorries – as well as cars and buses. It also makes electric drive systems ‘rafts’ which can be supplied to vehicle manufacturers for fitment on their own production lines to chassis rated at anything from 3.5 t to 18 t. One of these is Volta. In response to growing demand from Britain and overseas, Magtec moved to a new 65,000 sq ft factory in Rotherham in 2021.
A major area of focus has been refuse collection vehicles, where operators are under pressure to comply with ultra-low emissions regulations being imposed by local councils. In 2019 a Mercedes-Benz Econic 26 tonne unit, at the end of its seven-year diesel-powered working life, was converted for the Royal Borough of Greenwich for trials alongside conventional units. The aim was to extend the vehicle’s useful life by a further seven years, and achieve substantial life cycle cost savings. The battery was specified to enable two seven-hour shifts every working day and the hydraulic compaction system was replaced with an electric one.
In its home city, Magtec undertook the conversion to electric drive of four end-of-life Dennis Eagle vehicles, also in 2019. The vehicles were operated by Veolia on behalf of Sheffield City Council. This project resurrected the concept of a century before by incinerating waste collected by bin lorries at Sheffield’s Bernard Road energy recovery facility, where some of the electricity generated there could recharge the eRCVs.
Attention is now turning much more towards logistics and last mile deliveries. In 2017 Magtec built four 7.5 refrigerated trucks in cooperation with Paneltex of Hull as part of Innovate UK’s Temperature-controlled Range-extenders & Integrated Urban Mapping of Pollution (TRIUMPH) project. These were operated by Kuehne + Nagel to transport ambient, chilled, and frozen produce for Costa Coffee and Premier Inn (both part of Whitbread at the time). The aim was to assess the suitability of electric trucks for this kind of work.
Further work with Paneltex produced the MEV75 in 2018. This is a 7.5 t delivery truck with a 3.4 t payload, based on an Isuzu N75 chassis cab. The range is claimed to be between 80 and 140 miles depending on battery choice. The truck has been put into series production, offering a range of bodies such as parcel vans, drop-sides, tippers and refrigerated boxes.
The MAN TGE is a range of larger vans introduced in 2020. It is actually a badge-engineered version of parent company Volkswagen’s Crafter, and both models are built at a VW factory in Poland. The MAN eTGE is the all-electric variant, and is available in the UK, where no electric version of the Crafter is on sale.
The electric layout is fairly conventional, with a front-mounted 100 kW, 290 Nm permanent magnet synchronous motor and front-wheel-drive. The lithium-ion battery packs are set in the wheelbase. Available in 3.5 and 4.25 t GVW versions, its payload can be, respectively, 1 and 1.5 t, with up to 11 cubic metres of load space.
DPD announced in February 2020 that it was buying 100 MAN eTGEs for operations in Britain.
From 2020 the Maxus name superseded the LDV brand on the vans marketed in the UK by the light commercial vehicle subsidiary of the Chinese manufacturer SAIC. Thus the Maxus eDeliver 3 is a rebrand of the LDV EV30 city van unveiled in 2019. It fills a gap between the small and medium-sized offerings from other makers. The eDeliver 3 comes with a choice of two wheelbase lengths and two body sizes, as well as in chassis cab form. The battery comes in two sizes, the larger of which enables a range of about 150 mile, and it can be powered by either a 35 kW or 50 kW motor. The payload can be up to 945 kg.
In 2020 Maxus announced the eDeliver 9 to replace the aging LDV EV80. The base van bears a strong resemblance to the current Ford Transit which hints at the market it is aimed at. The range includes models at 3.5 and 4.25 t GVW, with a maximum payload of 1.7 t if the bigger version is chosen along with the smallest battery. A chassis cab variant is available as the basis of a tipper conversion, box van or other applications.
The ‘high power, low energy’ electric motor provides a very substantial 150 kW, with 310 Nm of torque. The potential for very lively driving is blunted by a speed limiter than stops the van exceeding 100 km/h. The choice of batteries extends across 51.5 kWh, 72 kWh and (on the larger variant) 88.55 kWh – with a maximum range of 84 miles depending on specification. The price is quoted as between £63,000 and £71,000.
Filling the gap between the eDeliver 3 and the eDeliver 9 is the eDeliver 7. It offers a payload of up to 1,135 kg and promises a range up to 226 miles. The range provides two possible lengths (roughly 5 m and 5.3 m) and two heights (roughly 2 m and 2.4 m). Depending on the customer’s choice the van is powered with a 77 kW or 88 kW motor.
In May 2022, Maxus was the first company to offer a mass-produced electric pick-up on the British market. This is the T90EV, which is a battery electric version of the MAXUST90 produced in China. The first UK deliveries are scheduled to be in early 2023. It promises a range of 320 km and a payload of 740 kg. The 88 kWh battery will supply a 150 kW motor. The overall length will be 5.37 m and the load bed will be 1.48 m long by 1.51 m wide.
The brand is certainly making a growing impression on the British market and is gaining support from major fleets. Early in 2023, CitySprint — which claims to be the UK’s largest same day distribution company — purchased forty Maxus eDeliver 3 vans for urban delivery work.
The first modern Mercedes-Benz electric van was the experimental LE 306, built in 1972, although the company had constructed some battery-electrics around 1910. Mainstream production began in 1995 with the Sprinter 308 E. Lithium-ion batteries were adopted in 2010.
The Mercedes Sprinter is one of the most popular ‘white vans’ in the UK. The latest 3.5 t GVW electric eSprinter was introduced in 2020. It offered a modest 75 mile range and 713 kg payload, and came in only one size. The 114 hp motor drove the front wheels and the 55 kW battery enabled a range of around 88 miles.
Also in 2020, the medium-sized 3.2 tonne GVW Mercedes eVito was launched as the electric option in the Vito range. Its smaller body compared with the eSprinter enabled a bigger payload of around 900 kg and it came in two lengths. The Tourer EQV 300 minibus had a bigger battery to enable a range up to 261 miles.
In April 2022 Mercedes-Benz announced that since 2010 it has produced 25,000 battery-electric vans. That is an impressive number, but should be set against the two million or more diesel vans that the firm produced over the same period.
In September 2022, Mercedes-Benz and Rivian revealed they had reached a tentative agreement to develop bespoke large electric vans together. This would lead to the marketing of Mercedes-Benz and Rivian branded vehicles in Europe, built in a factory somewhere in the central or eastern part the continent.
One design would be based on the Mercedes-Benz VAN.EA architecture, and the other on the Rivian RLV platform. Over time more integrated development would be envisaged.
That link-up did not last long. Faced with production difficulties and pressure on cash flow, Rivian stepped back in December to focus on sorting out activities in North America.
Mercedes-Benz is setting up a new electric vehicle factory in Jawor, Poland.
The next step will be the introduction of the all-new small-size vans: Mercedes-Benz eCitan and Mercedes-Benz EQT in (both closely related to the all-new Renault Kangoo Van E-TECH Electric and Nissan Townstar). Initially, the EQT will be a 5-seater, followed by a 7-seater in 2023.
This would mean that the entire line-up of commercial vehicles would have battery-electric versions.
Modec was based in Coventry and in 2004 began developing a striking urban delivery van that came on to the market in 2006. The project was actually initiated at LTI (possibly as a consequence of the E-Mercury work). The payload was 2 t with a GVW of 5.5 t, and in its original form came with a single sodium-nickel-chloride demountable battery pack. The Modec had a distinctive wrap-around cab, with room to stand up and the door being behind the seats. It was designed to be able to accommodate new types of battery as they became available. So by 2008 Modec was able to install lithium-ion batteries without major modifications. The vehicle was particularly designed to be almost entirely recyclable. The production system was also carefully thought out, and designed in such a way that it could easily be recreated in other locations for local assembly.
The philosophy of the firm was to work closely with customers in refining and extending the design, notably Tesco. On the Tesco trucks the cab door was actually part of the cargo body. Other customers included Center Parcs, Fedex, Hildon Water, JMC Logistics, Network Rail, Speedy Tool Hire, Transport for London and UPS. A number went to the City Cargo project in Amsterdam which was a short-lived scheme to restrict penetration by internal combustion goods vehicles into the city centre.
There was great optimism, with a belief that annual volumes could soon reach 2,000 vehicles. In August 2009 Modec won support from the US Government to begin manufacturing its product in the United States in a partnership with Navistar that might have led to a full takeover. Vehicles for the US would initially be sent complete but progress to being shipped as component kits. Navistar earmarked a site in Elkhart, Indiana to build electric vans for the American market. Alas, total Modec production over five years only reached 400 units, 150 of which were sold in the UK. One reason for this imbalance was that overseas markets had greater incentives to introduce electrics than the UK but were more inclined to purchase locally built products.
Whereas every other competitor is trying to make their electric commercial vehicles either as contemporary or as futuristic as possible, Morris Commercial has created a new electric van styled to look almost exactly like the 1948 Morris J. The J-type van was a familiar part of the British landscape through the 1950s and 1960s, running in large numbers with the General Post Office, state-owned concerns like British Railways, and commercial businesses large and small. Morris Commercial, set up in Oxfordshire by Dr Qu Li, aims to begin production of the JE in 2022. It hopes to tap into special niches within the electric van market where it is important to project a distinctive image – like events management, specialist courier work and brand promotion.
The vehicle’s major components are all developed and manufactured within the UK. A 60 kWh lithium-ion battery powers a rear-mounted motor, and the van should achieve a range of 200 miles. As well as taking electricity from the grid for charging, energy left in the battery at the end of the day can be discharged back into the grid when the van is out of use but electricity demand is high. The body copies the original J-type’s semi-forward control layout, with sliding doors, and a faintly streamlined shape. It is constructed from carbon fibre composite which keeps the weight down, and sits on an underframe that can accommodate possible future variants like a pick-up, minibus or camper van. Interior appointments include leather seats and wood effect flooring and interior body sides.
The Morris JE will be an expensive option for buyers (likely to cost around £60,000), reflecting its high-cost materials, emphasis on style, and the modest anticipated volumes. Morris Commercial anticipates 1,000 sales in its first year of full production – likely to be 2023.
Whereas other firms were taking original Land Rovers and converting them to electric drive, Munro Vehicles of Scotland developed a rugged four-wheel drive machine from scratch. The Munro Mk 1 was launched in December 2022 at a price of around £50,000. It was publicly unveiled at the 2023 Low Carbon Agriculture show in February 2023.
The company was started in 2019 by Russell Peterson and Ross Anderson, who saw the potential for an electric rough terrain vehicle where the motor’s high low speed torque would give it an edge over ICE-powered utility trucks.
The Munro can be specified with a choice of two motors (220 kW or 280 kW) and two batteries (61 kWh or 82 kWh), giving up to 190 miles of range. The aim is that the vehicle will be able to work off-road for up to 16 hours without a recharge. The battery contains 35 Lithium NMC modules fitted in three packs attached around the chassis.
With up to 700 Nm of torque the top-spec Munro can reach 62 mph in 4.9 seconds. Probably more important to its target market is a towing capacity of 3.5 t.
This off-roader is able to accommodate five people and carry them and equipment to remote locations. Orders have been received from the UK and abroad and the initial vehicles are hand-built at the firm’s base in East Kilbride. In 2024 the firm plans to move to larger premises in central Scotland, with the capacity to fulfil about 250 orders a year, rising to 2,500 over time.
Incidentally, the Munro name is taken from the label of any peak in Scotland that exceeds 3,000 ft.
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