I’m not here to lie to or mislead anybody, so I’ll get this disclaimer out of the way first. I absolutely signed up for this article so that I could use “Czech it Out” in the headline. You need to accept that, and be ready to move on, because this lightweight electric SUV 4×4 from Štěnovice in the Czech Republic is just too cool to ignore.
Based on the UAZ-469 Hunter- – a somewhat ubiquitous, Soviet-bloc paramilitary “Jeep” that’s been in more-or-less constant production since 1971 — the electric SUV here is called the MW Motors Spartan. It’s aptly named, because you won’t find a lot of the
bells and whistles touchscreens and connectivity features you might have come to expect in a modern car. What you’ll find instead is a robust, simply-built 4×4 that will go just about anywhere you point it. And that connotation of word “spartan” is just as much an intentional part of the DNA of this EV as the connotation of the Laconic warriors.
“MW Spartan perfectly describes this range of hard working, practical, minimalist, affordable & easy to fix vehicles,” read the company’s official copy. “The range is designed for customers abandoned by large car manufacturers. Real 4×4 enthusiasts, the farming community, forestry workers, extreme activity fans and under-ground mining companies care about rugged, raw performance, not fancy interiors or accessories. Not everyone wants a high cost, high maintenance stallion. Some people need a workhorse. The Spartan range fills this niche.”
It’s that last comment — the one of the electric workhorse — that really stands out in the veritable sea of high-priced electric SUV offerings from companies like Tesla, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz. I, for one, can’t imagine putting a seventy-plus thousand dollar Mercedes-Benz EQC to work on a muddy farm on day one of ownership. Maybe that’s just me, though.
It’s worth noting, too, that MW Motors isn’t “just” a small, one-off shop doing conversions on old UAZ Hunters. They’re actually working with UAZ to make these Eastern-bloc SUVs more practical and more sustainable in a post-oil world, without a massive overhead nut to crack. “Environmental and economic sustainability go hand in hand,” says MW Motors’ website.
“Other companies like to build mega factories, but these have severe economic and environmental impacts. All that concrete and steel cause mega emissions. The UAZ / MW Motors co-operation allows for the use of existing world class UAZ factories & existing MW Motors finishing facilities in Europe … a proven vehicle platform from UAZ is married with cutting edge electrification technology from MW Motors. This clever use of resources eliminates the carbon footprint associated with building new facilities, guarantees economic sustainability and delivers an affordable price for the end customer.”
The MW Spartan is available with either a 56 kWh to 90 kWh battery pack, and “a suitably powerful electric drivetrain” that won’t win any speed records, but will get the job done and get you from town to town. No word on range (that I could find), but a 90 kWh battery in a Tesla Model S is supposed to good for 270 miles. That’s a lot more driving than a work truck like this would probably ever be expected to do in a day, I think. RHD models are available now, with LHD models set to reach Western Europe mid-2020.
MW Motors Spartan | Photo Gallery
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