Author Archives: Alistair Munro

Q&A with Sandy Munro

Question and Answer with Sandy Munro October 18 2021

In today’s episode of Munro Live, we take questions submitted from viewers and have them answered in this Q&A with Sandy Munro.

We get a deluge of questions from our viewers on a regular basis covering the gamut from technology to Sandy’s personal stories, to financial and market direction. Even sometimes questions which we are not going to feature here including perpetual motion machines… sorry guys and gals, doesn’t exist.

That being said we get a lot of great questions that are asked with certain frequency and we thought we would address those first.

Q&A with Sandy Munro Topics covered:

  • What Chinese Car companies have a shot at competing with Tesla?
  • Is Xpeng stealing or innovating?
  • What do you consider your greatest achievement in your career is so far?
  • Besides the Plaid, which car are you most excited to review in 2022?
  • Do auto-manufacturers have a chance without using tesla AI?
  • What are some features you would like to see in a Tesla Van?
  • Is Tesla’s biggest advantage their manufacturing? VW produces car in 30 hours vs Tesla in 10.
  • What year do you think Europe will reach 50% EV?
  • What was the biggest automotive error or recall you have witnessed or been a part of?
  • How would you compare build quality of cars built back in the day, vs today?
  • What is the best way to scale up from prototype to volume production while keeping cost down and quality under control?
  • How did Sandy start his career and what advice would he give to kids going into engineering?

In conclusion, this is a great episode for finding out how Sandy views both the future of EV and his past. There are several great stories and anecdotes from Sandy’s origin story in this episode – worth listening to.

Don’t miss this Q&A with Sandy Munro. Click on the link below:

Tesla Giga-Berlin Review with Sandy & Cory

Tesla Giga Berlin Review Sandy Munro

In today’s long format episode of Munro Live, Sandy and Cory sit and discuss what they know about the Tesla Giga-Berlin factory.

We remind the audience that we get our information from public sources and other YouTubers we are friends with, but we have not had a chance to actually go through the factory ourselves. We haven’t been invited to any of these kinds of events and moreover, we wouldn’t go if it were on someone else’s dime, as we never want to be indebted to anyone or feel like we owe anyone anything.

This is quite a long video but it captures many of the key questions and observations that have been posed to us by viewers.

In this episode we talk about how Volkswagen is bewildered that Tesla can pump out a car in 10 hours vs the 30 hours it takes them. We are sure that more car manufacturers feel the same way. Elon Musk has created a superior system in both the China plant as well as the new Berlin plant that is not rivaled by any equivalent car manufacturing facility that we have seen.

This episode on the Tesla Giga-Berlin factory pulls on pictures and insights from Inside EVs and David Lee on Investing. That being said we give our unbiased impressions on the layout of the building, the speed at which is operates, what innovations we can see in the plant, how it compares to other facilities that we have seen, the robotics and the batter productions.

Don’t miss out on this very informative video for a deep look at what we think about the Tesla Giga-Berlin factory as well as our predictions on where we see its success compared to others for years to come.

Click below to watch this video now:

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hoist Review

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Hoist Review

In this episode of Munro Live Sandy is joined by a long time legend at Munro, David Oberholtzer (OB1) as they look under the Jeep Wrangler 4xe and tell the audience what they have found. Once again, Sandy brings up his lifelong love of Jeeps and so it is no surprise that he is considering buying another one soon, as the Cybertruck’s delivery have been pushed out until late 22′ or early 23′.

First Sandy rattles off the specs of the vehicle, stopping to emphasize that the 17-kWh Lithium Ion battery which can bring extra torque to the vehicle (an important point for Jeep off-roading enthusiasts).

Overall though, the Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon has been reported to have a nice feel while driving with reduced noise and comfortable seating and suspension. Cory remarked that he didn’t hear the engine kick in once when driving the vehicle back and forth from Munro & Associates to home which is impressive.

When looking at the suspension, Dave points out that it is the same as all of the newer Rubicon Jeep Wranglers. It also has the smart bar, which has an electronic disconnect on the sway bar allowing off-roaders to keep a better connection to the terrain when encountering highly uneven surfaces such as rocks/boulders at varying heights, logs, etc. This Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon also has a front camera that allows the driver to better see the terrain in front of them and make better navigation choices when confronting rugged and difficult environments.

OB1 gives praise to the engineers that designed this vehicle as they had to fit all of the suspension and 4×4 drive train components as a regular Jeep while accommodating all of the electric hybrid aspects. There is a lot going on in the underbelly of this beast.

The electronics and mostly kept within the super module except for the battery pack which is housed underneath the rear seat which unfortunately didn’t get a chance to look at in this video. Another amazing fact about this vehicle is that it also houses two electric motors – one in the front on the engine which is a motor generator unit and one inside the transmission coupled directly in the drivetrain. OB1 points out that this same hybrid with all of it’s complexities is assembled on the same line as the regular ICE Jeeps which in and of itself is amazing.

The rear of the vehicle also contains the same drivetrain and suspension components as what you would find on a standard Jeep while also accommodating the extra hybrid infrastructure. The tow package and trailer connections are the same rugged build, which makes it one of the only hybrids that we know can really tow loads that are heavy.

All in all, the Jeep engineers have maintained all of the cherished characteristics their customers desire including the ability to modify the vehicle with the packages for lifts, bushbars, etc. Our hats off to their team. As a former Jeep owner myself, I am glad that Jeep can maintain it’s brand and quality while moving into the electric sphere.

On a sad, note one of our dearly loved associates, Mark Ellis, our god of electrification has passed on. He would have loved to have a look at this vehicle as he really enjoyed pulling apart anything new. He will be sorely missed.

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Off-Roading

Jeep Wrangler 4xe Off-roading with Sandy Munro

In this fun episode of Munro Live’s series, we go hog wild bringing our Jeep Wrangler 4xe off-roading where Sandy Munro takes the vehicle for a spin, literally.

Cory’s friend has a bike course on his property, kindly allowed us to take our loaned Jeep Wrangler 4xe off-roading. There are several hills to traverse and some bush path to follow that Sandy takes advantage of.

Sandy starts off explaining that he has already sussed out and driven through the path. This way he knows before hand what he is getting into. He also points out that this is a course definitely designed for dirt bikes and not so much a Jeep. There isn’t as many opportunities to show off some of the capabilities that a Jeep has when tackling certain terrain. There are no ponds, fallen trees, or massive rocks to traverse on this course. But that doesn’t mean the team can’t have fun.

Although this is more of a fun video for the audience instead of an analysis, Sandy wants to remind Jeep that they are putting the grab handle in the wrong place. The position of the handle being placed on the left side instead of up top makes it awkward to use. Sandy first instinct is to grab for a place on the inside ceiling of the vehicle or the steering wheel. Please fix it!

Sandy explains that he is already in gear for the experience and gives a few pointers for the audience. Sandy immediate starts to travel through the series of hills, taking the first one a little slower. From there he ramps up taking the next set of hills faster and with more gusto! Going through the whole track doesn’t take long, so they decide to go through some bush area next.

You will get to see Sandy traverse through the bush utilizing some aspects of the Jeep. But most hilarious of all is the reactions from Cory in the back. Sandy finishes the show off with him doing donuts in the field.

For an enjoyable distraction from your day, click below to watch the full episode:

Hyundai Kona EV Ride and Drive

Hyundai Kona EV Ride and Drive with Sandy Munro

In this episode of the Munro Live Hyundai Kona EV series, Sandy is back to give his honest review of the feel, ease of use, and drive experience of this vehicle.

Interesting side note, one of our associates found himself without the use of his ICE vehicle after breaking down, and so was allowed to borrow the Kona for the night. This was his first time driving an EV and as this calamity befell him at the end of the day, no one had the time to give him quick tutorial. But that didn’t matter one bit. The car was intuitive and easy to figure out and more importantly, impressed him so much he is considering buying one.

Sandy steps into the Kona and comes up with his first critique which is he implores all car makers to adopt the “no door handle design” as found on the Ford Mach-E. Sandy also remarks on the proliferation of buttons on the IP that seem to fulfil redundant roles. Sandy reminds the viewers that adding a button results in about a dollar of cost per vehicle, give or take, when considering total accounted cost (engineering, tooling, labor, part cost, testing, etc.). When you also have a screen that performs all of those functions, the redundancy is just not needed and only adds expense. That being said, Sandy has no problem navigating through the screens and finds the system easy to use.

After some time playing around with Coast Energy Regeneration settings in the Hyundai Kona EV, Sandy is off on his drive. Sandy likes the feel of the steering wheel and in general the comfort of the car. On the highway, Sandy plays around with driver assist and takes the vehicle down the same sweeping curve that the Ford Mach-E had issues with. The Hyundai Kona EV however took the curve perfectly without Sandy’s helping hands and that is impressive to him.

Sandy finishes up the episode going through point by point that features he likes and doesn’t, but to hear what he has to say, you have to watch the video by clicking below:

Hyundai Kona EV Undercarriage Review

Hyundai Kona EV Hoist Undercarriage Review

In this Hyundai Kona EV Undercarriage Review episode of Munro Live, Cory and Kevin have a look at the high/low voltage wiring, SORB strategy, structure, suspension, and more.

Our episode starts off with Cory and Kevin pointing a few things that weren’t mentioned in our previous episode. Firstly, that the battery box hangs lower than the cradle, as demonstrated when Cory holds up a level to the battery box. This is a surprising find as this was an issue with the original Tesla Model S when it was first launched. Even though you can buy a polypropylene shield for this, the issue is passing the cinderblock test. Under highway conditions, if you ran over a block it would rip out the wires and damage the battery box.

The team moves on to the SORB (Small Overlap Rigid Barrier) strategy for partial front impact. The design on Hyundai’s newer vehicles seems to focus on trying to get away from having to use a perimeter cradle. The design doesn’t include small overlap rigid tusks or integration with the front end module, which we see on other vehicles. The Kona ICE vehicle performs/scores acceptable for SORB but we are interested in seeing how the EV version holds us. The vehicle employs a defensive strategy where the structure around the passenger occupant home is affording the vast majority of the protection with double shear brackets and an S/Y blend of body structure redirecting the energy away from critical areas.

While Hyundai does employ low cost impact solutions as mentioned above, there are certain places that they spend the extra for quality such as the very refined and efficient knuckle forging.

Looking at the EDM (Electric Drive Module) Cory points out that the output of the gearbox in not centered and instead biased to the left. This also means the the the two front half-shafts are different lengths which creates a certain amount of torque steer feeling when driving the vehicle. While Sandy pointed out that he liked the idea of integrating the AC compressor into the EDM, but Cory demonstrates that this is a trade as it then requires you to have very long cooling lines that travel along the underside of the car to reach all the places it’s needed.

The team goes on to talk about NVH issues on the EDM as well as findings on the rear suspension. But to see what our finds, you have to watch the video below:

Hyundai Kona EV Undercarriage Review

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe First Impressions

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon Hybrid Sandy Munro First Impressions

In this first episode in the series on the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe Rubicon Hybrid, Sandy Munro (a long time Jeep owner) reviews the companies newest hybrid contender. Sandy recounts some of the terrain and travails that he has experience with his Jeep Wrangler. This new hybrid vehicle however is a first look for Sandy which he first noticed at the Detroit International Autoshow this year (Motor Bella). He would also like to thank Chrysler for letting Munro have a look at this vehicle in detail and review it on our channel.

Sandy has a quick walk around the vehicle remarking on similar and dissimilar features of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe vs his current Wrangler. The first thing he notices that is probably more for style than function is the scoops on the above the engine. Sandy is unsure if the vehicle actually needs this to prevent over heating at any point.

Inside the vehicle, Sandy likes the overall look and feel of the car, including the grab handles, the look of the instrument panel, and especially the electric retractable/convertible roof. This is actually a suggestion that we gave to Chrysler a while ago, which Sandy is overjoyed to see put into the vehicle.

In the front and back seating, Sandy finds the overall comfortability the same as in his Jeep but definitely likes the attention to detail in the stitching.

The trunk continues to provide great room, but Sandy likes the addition of the extra cargo space underneath the floor with a roadside kit bag inside. Sandy also finds a surprise in the back of the 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe which is a special bag that fits behind the back seats that is made specifically for storing the side windows in. The side windows are also designed in an easy to remove Lean Design fashion that Sandy is a real fan of.

Sandy ends of the video having a look under the hood and the front of the vehicle, catching more interesting features, but learn what they are, you are going to have to watch the video below:

Sandy Visits ONE + Tesla Model 3 LFP Battery

Sandy Visits ONE HQ and Tesla Model 3 LFP Battery

In this exciting episode of Munro Live, Sandy visits the ONE (Our Next Energy) Lab and Head Quarters to have a talk and tour with Mujeeb Ijaz, CEO of ONE.

Our Next Energy is dedicated to exploring the outer limits of battery and energy storage technologies. Mujeeb starts off explaining that ONE believes that to understand the future of electric you also have to have a long hard look at the past of automotive which originally was predominantly electric. In the center of ONE’s facilities sits the Anderson Electric Car Company crown jewel, the “Detroit Electric” which Sandy is absolutely enamored with. Sandy and Mujeeb have a look through the styling and functionality of the vehicle with reverence and intrigue. An interesting fact is that Henry Ford’s wife owned and preferred the Detroit Electric to Ford’s own vehicles and made Anderson’s car her primary automobile. Anderson actually wrote to Ford directly at one point regarding the service of his wife’s Detroit Electric (costing a mere 90 cents after several thousand miles) imploring Henry Ford to instead consider electric for his vehicles. Other women of prominence who drove and preferred a Detroit Electric were Thomas Edison’s and John D. Rockefeller’s wife, as well as Mammie Eisenhower.

Mujeeb has assembled quite the collection of interesting electric artifacts from the past including an original alkaline Edison battery from the 1870’s comprising of a potassium hydroxide solution used for railway signaling that needed a consistent topping up of an oil solution to keep the water from evaporating. But the need to create a battery optimized and dedicated for electric vehicles lead the Edison company to create a nickel iron battery; one which is also displayed in Mujeeb’s lab. The nickel iron battery chemistry is robust and has stood the test of time. Some of the old Baker Electric batteries still function to this day.

Even back in the early 1900’s, electric vehicles were considered better for many reasons including they could be plugged into the grid, and they could be started in the cold more easily, and they were safer and easier to start than cranked combustion engine vehicles. In fact the safety issues regarding crank starting ICE vehicles caused Kettering to create the electric starter for various ICE vehicle producers at the time including Ford.

Moving to the present, Sandy meets up with Tim Hughes, Sr. Director of Product Development, who gives our viewers a walkthrough of the Aries™ Structural Cell to Pack™ battery which is ONE’s flagship battery technology. With 108 cells of Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry in series producing 79 kilowatt hours of power, ONE’s unique approach makes a structural element out of the cells which results in a 76% volumetric cell to pack energy efficiency. Tim then goes into deeper detail on hour this system works which, if you are a battery enthusiast, you definitely want to watch.

From here, Tim and Sandy move on to looking at the Tesla Model 3 LFP (Lithium Iron Potassium) battery which houses some pretty slick technology and a very Lean Design, but no spoilers here, you are going to have to watch the video by clicking the link below:

Hyundai Kona First Look With Sandy Munro

Hyundai Kona EV First Impressions with Sandy Munro

In this first episode of the Hyundai Kona EV series, Sandy gives the viewers his first impressions of the vehicle. Sandy starts off with a walk around and some general comparisons between this EV and the KIA Niro. Sandy points out that between the Niro and the Hyundai Kona, the kilowatt hours are the same, seemingly uses the same battery, yet the Niro cost is higher. Moreover the electric motors have the same horse power, but the Niro has a 239 mile range and the yet somehow the Hyundai Kona has 258 mile range. For Sandy this is a major headscratcher.

There are some other similarities in styling between the Niro and the Kona, including one of Sandy’s favorite features – the charging plug located at the front of the car, making pulling into the charging station easier. It even has the added benefit of a light bar indicating the charge of the battery.

From a gaps perspective, Sandy finds the fit and finish to be of good quality. FFQ is something that Hyundai does well and the Kona is no exception.

Moving on to the interior, right off the bat Sandy is a fan of the steering wheel as well as the button placements on the console and screen on on the dash. Having the ability to sit in the car and instantly understand where everything important on the instrument panel and console is a major criteria that Sandy judges against when comparing vehicles. Design should be intuitive for function.

Sandy also likes the light placement for the mirror within the sun visor which, according to Sue, is a better to be from above than coming from the mirror itself. Sandy tries out the backseat and finds it surprisingly comfortable and is impressed by the French seams in the stitching.

Sandy moves to the trunk where he finds some surprise things that he likes and finally to the area under the hood, which he doesn’t like so much, but to find out what his pet peeves are, you will have to watch the video below:

Mini Cooper SE EV Wrap Up With Sandy

Mini Cooper SE EV Wrap Up With Sandy Munro

In this wrap-up episode of the Mini Cooper SE EV series, Sandy is back and starts off giving his two cents on how he sees this vehicle. Sandy also reminds the audience that while we do benchmarking and costing, Munro started off and continues to be a product design innovation factory. Specifically speaks on the transitional look and build of the Mini when we worked on it in the early 2000s, but more to come on that at the end of the video.

First off, the lines of the car are what you would expect from an updated Mini look with the same with roughly the same gaps you would find on a BMW, although Sandy finds a few that he is surprised about. That being said Sandy likes the beauty and style gaps and tricks that the Mini Cooper SE EV pulls off in it’s design.

Sandy especially likes the scoop for the wheel, the lay-down and adjustable rear seats providing more trunk carrying space, and the Union Jack found in the rear light lenses.

Moving on to what is under the bonnet, Sandy shows visible shock as he sees the faux motor cover and underneath it the steel weldment that we, at Munro, have never seen on any other vehicle… ever. Sandy at this point was looking at the vehicle freshly and no one had informed him on what we found in our previous videos. Sandy then imparts some war wisdom along with war stories from the past, ever still shocked at what he has found under the hood and what he might find in the batteries or other systems we didn’t pull apart.

Sandy moves on to trying out sitting in the vehicle and looks at the interiors, instrument panel, and infotainment system. He also talks a lot of the

The truly interesting part of this video however, comes when Sandy imparts a lot of information from the past of how we worked on redesign of the Mini when they were acquired through BMW in the past (which also involved Land Rover). We first first did work on the Land Rover products which were a great success which lead us onto the Mini redesign group. We made some major changes from Sir Alec Issigonis original look and design resulting in a massive savings and safety increase to the Minis in the early 2000s.

But to learn more about that history and to watch Sandy’s reactions, you will have to watch the video below: