World's first flat-pack truck to bring mobility to developing nations

Meet the OX, a rugged multi-purpose vehicle its creators hope will bring transport to millions

Bringing vehicles into developing nations comes with its problems, but the OX, from the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) could be the solution. It’s a rugged, multipurpose truck, strong enough to cope with the worst of roads but cheap and simple enough to be built and maintained by just about anybody.

The OX is the vision of Sir Torquil Norman, who founded GVT five years ago. It harks back to the ‘Africar’ project of the 1980s, which took Citroen 2CV mechanicals and a sturdy plywood bodyshell, aiming to bring mobility to harsh environments in developing countries. The OX shoots for the same goal, but does it in a very different way.

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The OX sets itself aside immediately thanks to its ‘flat-pack’ construction. This allows the vehicle to fold into itself, creating a compact package that can be more easily transported across the world. Six OX vehicles can be shipped inside a single shipping container, keeping costs down at both ends.

It also creates jobs in the destination country, where local companies will be employed to assemble and maintain the finished vehicles. An OX can be put together in approximately 12 hours by three skilled people.

The OX’s entire design suits the countries where it will end up. The vehicle is two-wheel drive, for simplicities sake, but lots of ground clearance, chunky tyres and independent suspension ensure it can keep going on the roughest terrain.

A central seating position means the vehicle won’t need expensive adaptations for the mixture of left and right-hand drive countries in Africa. A 2.2-litre Ford diesel engine provides just 99bhp, but 310Nm of torque should keep the OX plodding through most anything.

The OX also has a party trick – a massive payload. It’s able to carry 1900kg in the load bed, which is getting on for double what most European pickups can manage.

GVT engaged the services of Professor Gordon Murray to help design the OX. Professor Murray’s other projects include Formula 1 cars and the iconic McLaren F1, but he’s a big fan of the OX.

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“Honestly, I’m more proud of this vehicle than anything else I’ve ever done – including the McLaren F1 road car which was a narrow product for only a few wealthy people across the globe,” he said, when we interviewed him.

“The vehicle is so good. We’ve benchmarked it and know that there’s nothing else like it on the planet. It can carry up to 13 people, eight 44 gallon drums, or three Euro pallets. It’s truly unique.”

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So what next for the GVT OX? Sir Torquil Norman and Professor Murray hope to secure investment from a larger manufacturer. With proper backing, the hope is that production could exceed 10,000 units each year.

Sir Torquil said: “Feedback we have had so far from contacts in Africa and with aid agencies has been very positive. OX is about making a difference now, being part of something ground-breaking and unique. Most of all it presents a real opportunity to make a fundamental and lasting difference to people’s lives.”

“Our priority now is to raise the funding to complete the testing and take the project to fruition… my dream is to one day see an OX in every village in Africa.”

What do you think of the GVT OX? Let us know in the comments below...

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