Russell Petersen with Ross Anderson at the Munro’s launch
Bathed in moody purple and red lights, the Munro Mk 1 made a dramatic entrance at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre where a 150-strong audience had gathered to witness the start of a new motoring era. Munro is the first automotive manufacturer to build cars at scale in Scotland since Peugeot-Talbot closed its Linwood plant in 1981, and Russell Petersen can’t wait to see their first all electric 4×4 roll off the production line when manufacturing begins next year.
Neither Petersen, a 32-year-old off-road hobbyist from Devon, nor his Munro co-founder Ross Anderson from Glasgow, were born when the last vehicles rolled off the Linwood production line. While the vehicles bear no comparison, Petersen admits the historic references helped build anticipation for the launch.
“We’ve had a huge number of CVs from trades people wanting to be part of it,” says Petersen. “There is a lot of under-utilised talent in Scotland.”
Progress has been remarkably quick. From starting up in 2019 they soon had a prototype ready to show to prospective buyers.
Orders have already poured in from Switzerland, St Lucia, and Dubai. Several pre-sale agreements have been reached with fleet operators in key industries.
A deal has been signed with Wyre to distribute a slightly larger version in the US where it is seen by some as Scotland’s answer to the American ‘Humvee’, initially targeting customers in the utility, mining, and oil industries.
In 2024, Munro will expand from its current headquarters in East Kilbride to a new purpose-built factory where production will scale to more than 250 units per year initially, leading to the creation of 300 jobs. The new site will eventually produce 2,500 vehicles a year.
The Munro Mk1 ready for production
Petersen says: “I had been playing at off-road sites, as an enthusiast, but it was during a camping trip with Ross in the Highlands when we came up with the idea of the ultimate adventure vehicle that was electric.
“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. 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 4×4 pick-up trucks that have come to dominate the market.”
In keeping with the love of the outdoors, Munro took its name from a Scottish mountain that exceeds a height of 3000 feet. Petersen became CEO while his business partner is head of powertrain, effectively overseeing the battering technology.
It will operate for up to 16 hours on a single battery charge. It can transport a crew of five, accommodating a 1000kg payload and 3500kg towing capacity.
The prototype quickly caught the public’s imagination and the vehicle has featured on Channel Five’s Fifth Gear, the Discovery channel and Quest.
So far, the main investor has been Elbow Beach Capital, a social impact venture vehicle established in London last year which injected £750,000. A series A funding round will be launched shortly to raise in excess of £10m and it is hoped the Scottish National Investment Bank will be among the backers.
“We obviously want to make money out of this,” says Petersen, “but we are only interested in investors who regard the environment as a key value.”
Occupation: chief executive, Munro Vehicles
Education: College of West Anglia, Cambridge
Career highlights: Raised on a farm, worked briefly as a software programmer, set up and sold an agricultural contracting business
Walking, travelling, computers
What do you find frustrating?
The supply chain. Not meeting deadlines or quality requirements.
Do you carry cash?
If you could invite three people to a fantasy dinner party who would you choose?
Ben Fogle… who wrote a book on the Land Rover. He gets it.
King Charles… to get closer to his views on the environment
Richard Branson... the ultimate entrepreneur