This is the OX. It's got a center seat like a McLaren F1, and can seat up to 13 people or carry eight 44 gallon drums or three pallets. Designed to get Africa moving, it's so simple that the company says three people can build one in 11.5 hours using only normal tools and skills.
Designed in the UK, the OX's flat pack allegedly takes only 5.4 hours to create. As far as shipping goes, six OXs, including engines and transmissions, fit into a standard 40-ft hi-cube container. Most of its panels are interchangeable from one side to the other for easy maintenance.
Africa has 10 percent of the world's population, but there aren't too many vehicles out there designed to meet the continent's needs. The non-profit Global Vehicle Trust wants to change that by making this low-cost front-wheel drive vehicle powered by a 2.2-liter diesel engine with a manual transmission. The OX weights 1.7 tons and unladen, 73% of that is over the front axle, while when fully loaded, 53% is still over that axle. The maximum payload is a healthy 2.2 tons. It also has a wide track, high ground clearance, short front and rear overhangs, and can apparently drive through 30-inch deep water.
The idea for a vehicle came from Sir Torquil Norman, founder of the Norman Trust who is most known for saving the Roundhouse, a great venue in London's Camden Town by raising £30 million for a complete makeover. As a former Camden resident myself, I must say I owe him a beer for that.
Sir Norman says he was inspired by the Africar project in the eighties, and through the Global Vehicle Trust, he is now close to make that dream a reality. After spending a million pounds ($1.52M) on bringing the OX to the working prototype stage, now another 3 million pounds is needed to take the project through to a production-ready status. Going public will certainly help reaching that goal.
According to the feedback the OX is getting, it's even possible that next to the Africans, some European farmers would also be interested in a cheap and easy to maintain workhorse like this. That makes it a very interesting concept, and I want to drive one now.
I guess it's time to head back to the UK. A Camden party with an OX sounds awesome.