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I Want This Russian Electric SUV

Ben Parker

The Hunter, originally the 469, is a lightweight off roading SUV by the Russian auto maker UAZ. The barebones SUV sticks to its utilitarian roots with little to no added frills. The original 469 was manufactured during the Soviet era for the Soviet army and was used throughout the Eastern bloc. It would later go on to become a popular off roading car throughout Europe in the 80s because of its utility, size and cost. The Hunter today boasts 9.5" ground clearance with 128hp and 95lb/ft of torque.

Credit MWM Motors

Article Highlights

Here it is, the car you didn’t know you wanted. Probably because like me you didn’t know it existed; the MWM Spartan. I have always garnered a healthy love for soviet era cars. They’re boxy and utilitarian. I’ve always loved the 469, the Lada Niva, and any other little Lada sedan driving around. I think they’re pretty cool. Now we have an all-electric Russian mobile that looks like it could do some pretty good offroading.

MWM, the Czech automobile manufacturer got their start in 2010 with the Luka EV which was an old-fashioned looking concept car that was all-electric. Their newest model, the Spartan, is built on the new UAZ-469, they’ve added an electronic drivetrain a battery, and that’s basically it. Their goal is to keep this car close to its UAZ roots. As they put it: 

“MWM Spartan perfectly describes this range of hard-working, practical, minimalist, affordable & easy to fix vehicles. The range is designed for customers abandoned by large car manufacturers. Real 4×4 enthusiasts, the farming community, forestry workers, extreme activity fans & 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.”

Russian automakers have long been known for their focus on utilitarianism, so this matches that. But is that an easy cop-out for not updating the car more? I mean, as I understand it currently, electric charging stations aren’t really in rural areas, and (sadly) many who live in these areas don’t have access to a lot of utilities for electric vehicles. So are these really for farmers or people who live in rural areas? We’ll see. Or maybe we won’t because these aren’t being sold in the US. I wish they would though.

Building off of the Hunter platform the Spartan brings electric power to the off roading 4x4. One of the few changes you'll notice between the UAZ Hunter and the MWM Spartan is the little MWM badge sported on its grill.

Credit MWM Motors

An updated digital gauge cluster is a hint that this car uses battery not gas. MWM's goal with the Spartan was to only change the internals without sacrificing the utility and design of the Hunter. So few changes were made to make the Spartan.

Credit MWM Motors

The UAZ-469 was manufactured from 1971 as a military car. It stood as a flagship of its time and the platform was so well-loved they even attempted to make an amphibious version of the car for the military. It wasn’t until the 80s that the car garnered more of an international following when offroading vehicles became more popular in Europe and internationally. 

Aside from its offroading capabilities (which could be matched by its British counterparts) was its real lack of luxury. This car was strictly utilitarian and had military features that others didn’t like extra storage space in the back and two fuel tanks. The actual platform of the car was semi-easy to work on and made it so other importers could modify the car, some adding turbo diesel, Fiat, or Peugot engines. After recognizing the popularity of the 469 some manufacturers made a few other models that used the 469 as their base (similar to what MWM is doing today). One interesting spinoff is Dragon Motors “Jump”.

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Separate from the 469, UAZ makes some pretty cool cars. The offroad van the SGR is the retro-styled offroader for you and your whole family although no one has electrified this one it seems like a good candidate.  

As you can tell from the Spartan, MWM still sells the 469 under the new name of the “Hunter”. They still aren’t sold in the United States, but perhaps an electric version from Europe would make that more feasible.

I think the coolest thing about this car is that UAZ continues to make the 469 in essentially the same form that they have since 1971. I wish a few other automakers would learn something from them. Good design is timeless, and the UAZ has stood the test of time. The 1966 Ford Bronco was/is a thing of beauty, and that opinion is held rather widely, yet Ford had to go and mess with the design until they killed it. Only now to decide to take another stab at it. 

History Reference:

Auto Soviet