Home Innovation Flat-pack truck to make light work of African roads

Flat-pack truck to make light work of African roads

An Ikea-styled ‘flat-pack’ truck that can be assembled in under 12 hours is hoped to change the way we tackle Africa’s rough terrain and tough roads.

The OX truck was designed by South African born British Formula 1 race car designer Gordon Murray and has already receiving the nod from the Top Gear gurus describing the trucks as ‘ultra-simple, ultra-cheap, ultra-robust and ultra-repairable’. The 60-piece flat-pack OX truck is easy to ship and can be built by three laypeople in just 11 and a half hours.

The website that “takes a fresh look at technology” alphr.com reports that Murray’s design of the one tonne truck has a special focus on developing nations where there is a great need for reliable ground transport.

The OX’s construction from – mostly – low-cost marine plywood is a far cry from Murray’s previous projects, which included five Formula 1 constructor’s championship race cars as well as the super slick McLaren F1 road monster. While plywood means that the costs are considerably lower than for regular vehicles, the truck is not at all flimsy. Being a two-wheel drive vehicle, the 4-cylinder, 16-valve diesel Ford PT22 engine can carry up to two tonnes of weight, thanks to its low centre of gravity.

“It’ll keep on trucking through 750mm of water, and will keep running for around 620 miles without filling up,” says alphr.com.

The truck was developed on instruction of philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman, an ex-fighter pilot, lawyer, economist, banker and retired toy magnate who invested a reported $4 million to get the vehicle designed and prototyped.

Gordon Murray Design said from it’s headquarters in Shalford in Surrey the ‘Global Vehicle Trust OX’ (the truck’s official name) is ‘the first vehicle to be designed specifically to provide all-terrain mobility for the developing world’.

“Across Africa and other parts of the developing world, there is intense need for improved transport, for both everyday living as well as emergencies. The OX has been designed specifically to tackle a host of transport challenges, and to undertake crucial daily tasks, such as collect drinking water and transporting grain, fertiliser or building materials. It is unlike any other vehicle and has no direct competitor – whether from a concept, performance or pricing point of view…”

The OX’s cabin provides seating for three people with the driver seated in the middle. This has the advantage that it’s fit for purpose in Africa where in some countries people drive on the left of the road and other countries on the right, usually in line with the custom of the European countries who colonised them.

All-terrain ability was crucial for the development of the truck. The OX has been engineered to perform as well as, or better than, a four-wheel drive vehicle across a range of surfaces.

There is no official word on price yet, but initial reports suggest unit prices between $13,000 and $20,000 with the aim to first sell it to international development agencies, the United Nations, government department or even regional co-operatives in Africa.