A major sales and leasing opportunity for the ground-breaking Munro all-electric 4x4 off-roader could see upwards of 3,000 vehicles built and shipped Stateside over the next three years. This marks a welcome return of automotive manufacturing to Scotland.
Over 300 new jobs are forecast for the East Kilbride manufacturing plant where the Munros will be hand built by a highly technical workforce.
Following an exclusive export deal struck between two Glasgow-based companies – Munro Vehicles and 'Wyre', an all-electric vehicle sales and leasing specialist – major industries and utilities throughout the USA are said to be 'excited' by news of Scottish-built vehicles.
Production will start in Munro Vehicles' purpose built factory at the end of this year, ready for the first export shipments to the USA in 2023. The first 50 units are already sold and will be delivered next year, with manufacturing of 500 in 2024 and 2,500 in 2025.
Wyre's Scottish-based managing director, Rebecca Hansen, is now on a six-week tour of the USA, spearheading talks with bosses of major gas and electric utility companies, and oil exploration and production multi-nationals.
As she headed Stateside from Heathrow Airport, US-born Ms Hansen told Scottish Review
: 'We see the Munro 4x4 EV as a serious and compelling opportunity for a wide range of our customers across the USA and one which has tremendous potential across the globe in farming, forestry, and indeed in a wide range of serious off-road applications. Those we have spoken to are excited about this vehicle and keen to explore how it can be introduced to their fleets'.
All this is welcome news for the Scottish economy. Scotland's only other mainstream car manufacturing stopped in 1981 when the Chrysler plant at Linwood in Renfrewshire ceased production.
The Munro 4x4 EV, seen by some as Scotland's answer to the famous American 'Humvee', is being targeted by Wyre to customers in Texas, California, Florida, Washington and throughout the extensive Canadian forestry industry. 'We even have companies working in the gold mines of Nevada showing great interest,' added Ms Hansen. The Munros will retail in the US some $35,000-40,000 cheaper than the Humvee at approximately $88,500.
Munro's CEO, Russ Peterson, said: 'North America is a key growth market for Munro, and we're pleased to be able to partner with Wyre to realise our ambitions ahead of our original timeline. We're dedicating half of our 2023 production to left-hand-drive vehicles developed specifically for the US market, which Wyre will deliver to customers throughout next year. This opportunity demonstrates that Munro Vehicles has the potential to be a global player in the automotive industry, with a product that is clearly desirable around the world. These vehicles and their owners will also feedback valuable data to our team as we develop our product further. This is just the beginning'.
The Munro Vehicles and Wyre agreement secures exclusive rights for the sale, leasing and distribution of the Scottish-built 4x4 EV in the US and Canada. This collaboration is seen as significant for Wyre as it establishes what Ms Hansen describes as 'a new and substantially important foothold' for its operations in the rapidly expanding US EV sales and leasing markets.
She added: 'One particular US sector we are targeting is the huge electric utility industry where companies need to show their customers that they are taking the provision of EVs seriously in their own fleets. The price point of the Munro vehicle at around £75,000 (US$ 88,500) is compelling! The Munro is a great multi-purpose vehicle, and one that has a great future and we are delighted we have the opportunity to make it a big success in the US. Just as important, it is further step in establishing Wyre as market leaders in what we do. This an important win for us. The US is a massive market for this type of serious off-roader which Munro Vehicles intend to support by establishing servicing facilities in the States'.
Overseas orders will mean a huge scaling-up of production in Munro's East Kilbride assembly plant and comes over four decades after the last passenger car was built at the Chrysler Linwood plant in Renfrewshire. Munro's design, development, prototype testing and manufacturing operations have been established by entrepreneurs, Russ Peterson & Ross Anderson, at their base in the Dalmarnock area of Glasgow.
Norrie Hunter is
a motoring journalist and is currently advising Electric Vehicle Association Scotland on press and media communications