The world’s first flat-pack truck, the OX by Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) recently unveiled in London, promises a low-cost answer to the challenges of transportation in developing nations. The OX was designed to enable true all-terrain mobility without a dizzying price tag, and it’s well suited for regular transportation needs as well as disaster recovery. Because each truck packs flat for shipping, they can be stacked together and drop-shipped just about anywhere in the world, a feature which could translate into life-changing and life-saving transportation in areas where there may not even be roads.
Sir Torquil Norman founded GVT specifically to create a low-cost all-terrain vehicle capable of transporting heavy loads of cargo and people across difficult environments. Norman tapped automotive designer Gordon Murray to develop the OX to fulfill that need. With its high ground clearance and weight distribution, the OX can do what many other large trucks can do, but it has one important feature that has never been seen before on this scale. The OX flat-packs within itself, making it much easier to build and transport the trucks from their origin in the UK to wherever they are needed in Africa and other developing parts of the world.
It takes three people less than six hours to build each truck, and six of the OX trucks can be shipped together a 40-foot-high cube container. Upon arriving at their final destination, the OX trucks will be assembled and maintained by hired local professionals; it takes three people around 12 hours to assemble one OX. Each truck is powered by a four-cylinder diesel engine and can carry a load of over 4,000 lbs. The OX’s cabin holds three passengers, with the driver seat positioned in the middle for optimal weight distribution (in the event that the driver is alone in the cab) as well as to account for differences in traffic rules (i.e. which side of the road people drive on).
“My inspiration for the OX goes back to seeing the ‘Africar’ project of the 1980s,” said Norman. “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 program.”
GVT unveiled its prototype in London, has been communicating with aid organizations in Africa, and is now seeking investors to bring the project of five-plus years to fruition. The end foal? To fulfill Norman’s dream of seeing “an OX in every village in Africa.”