New OX for Africa?
Across Africa and other developing countries, there is a need for improved transport for both everyday living and emergencies. The world’s first “flat-pack” truck – designed for just that – has been revealed and is set to bring aid to remote parts of Africa and the developing world.
The Global Vehicle Trust OX is designed to provide low-cost, all-terrain mobility for remote areas; specifically to tackle a host of transport challenges and to undertake crucial daily tasks, such as collecting drinking water and transporting grain, fertiliser or building materials.
The makers claim the OX is unlike any other vehicle and has no direct competitor. It originated from the vision of Sir Torquil Norman, who founded the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) five years ago, to pursue his ambition to help people in the developing world by providing cost-effective mobility.
The GVT subsequently briefed renowned South African automotive designer Gordon Murray on a unique humanitarian programme to create a revolutionary lightweight truck.
“My inspiration for the OX goes back to seeing the ‘Africar’ project of the 1980s. This project shares some of the aims of that vehicle, but its execution is radically different. OX was just a dream six years ago, but it is now a realistic prospect for production with working prototypes that have completed a comprehensive testing programme,” Norman says.
The brief for the vehicle called for high ground clearance, excellent approach and departure angles, large wheel movement, a multi-purpose layout and a three-person cab. Murray’s flat-pack design fundamentally changes the way a vehicle can be bought and transported, providing specific advantages to lead times and overall unit cost.
“The OX design and prototyping programme is undoubtedly one of the most interesting and challenging I have undertaken during my 45 years of car design, including my years in F1.
“The added challenge of a flat-packed vehicle design over the already tough targets for cost, durability and weight saving made for a fascinating and stimulating journey from concept to prototype,” says Murray.
The OX also has a huge and adaptable load carrying capability. The overall vehicle length is far shorter than a large SUV, and yet it can carry a payload of 1 900 kg with a load volume of 7,0 m3. Based on European Union size guidelines, it can seat up to 13 people, carry eight 200 litre drums, or three Euro-pallets.
The OX’s cabin provides spacious accommodation for three people, and the driver is seated centrally – meaning it can operate easily in left- and right-hand drive markets.
Uniquely, it is capable of being flat-packed within itself, enabling it to be transported more efficiently around the world.
It takes three people less than six hours to create the flat pack in the United Kingdom prior to shipping, and six of these flat packs can be shipped within a 40-ft high-cube container. Assembly labour is transferred to the importing country, where local professional companies will be employed to assemble (about 12 hours) and maintain the finished vehicles.
Practicality was a key consideration: the tailgate does not merely contain the load in the back; it detaches completely and can be rotated lengthways to double as a loading ramp.
The rear bench-seat bases also have a dual purpose: the long “egg crate” frames can be removed from the vehicle and used as “sand ladders” under the wheels to help the OX traverse challenging soft ground.
“Feedback we have had so far from contacts in Africa and aid agencies has been very positive. Our priority now is to raise the funds to complete the testing and take the project to fruition.
“We believe that the OX has huge potential for charities, aid organisations and development programmes. My dream is to one day see an OX in every village in Africa,” concludes Norman.