The remarkable OX is the first full-scale, usable truck that can be shipped flat and assembled by hand in about 12 hours. It’s designed to be a tough, usable, easy-to-make workhorse for the developing world, and now the latest prototype, the XP3, has been revealed in London. Now the company behind it, the Global Vehicle Trust, just needs to raise some cash to make it happen.
The basic idea behind the OX certainly isn’t new: coming up with a tough, easy-to-build and usable vehicle for rural Africa and other developing areas has long been a challenge for carmakers and designers. Citroën had their FAF easy-to-make car, Volkswagen had their Basistransporter (also known as the Hormiga in Mexico), the box-like truck that was the first to use their air-cooled engine up front, and there was the ‘70s Africar, an inspiration to OX designer and former McLaren F1 designer Gordon Murray.
There’s been a number of other cars designed for this very specific niche, and the design of the OX resembles many of them by the nature of the requirements: flat body panels, including flat glass, to keep production simple and possible without complex presses, off-road capable, and very, very flexible.
The OX design is quite brilliant in how well it satisfies these requirements. It’s not 4WD, but it’s been designed to handle about as well as a 4WD vehicle, with lots of ground clearance and great approach/departure angles – really, 4WD would just introduce more mechanical complexity for minimal benefit. The FWD setup has most of the weight over the drive wheels, an advantage Dune buggy and Baja Bug racers have understood for years.
The basic design is a cab-over truck, with that cab over a Ford-sourced 2.2-liter diesel engine making 100 HP. The cab sits (at least) three abreast, with the central position being the drivers. The windshield, divided in thirds, means that if the driver’s window gets shattered, it’s no big deal to swap out one of the outside panes.
The basic body is a pickup, but there are provisions for a top to make it into a sort of passenger van that can seat up to 10 in the rear, for a total capacity of 13 people. It’ll hold an insane amount of cargo for its weight—it’s about 3,500 pounds, and it’ll carry almost 4,200 pounds—way more than most conventional pickup trucks costing much, much more.
The weight distribution is optimized for it fully laden, when it’s at about 50/50; empty, it’s around 70/30. The OX is designed to have provisions for power take-off to drive equipment, its tailgate can be used as a loading ramp for smaller vehicles or equipment, the canvas upper body can be used as an emergency shelter—every thing about the OX is clever as hell.
I personally love wildly utilitarian and no-bullshit vehicles like this. I’m hoping they get the funding the need to start building these kits (in the UK, at least at first) and shipping them all over the place. I kind of want one, too. I’m sort of developing?
Here’s what OX says about their next steps:
The global launch of the OX aims to highlight the need for investment and support in order to progress the project to completion. The Global Vehicle Trust believes that the OX project will attract a wide range of interest from potential backers.
Sir Torquil Norman [founder of Global Vehicle Trust] 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. 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.”
It’s not really clear exactly how they plan to get their funding as of yet. Personally, I think they should try and sell some commercially in America, but, then again, I always get kicked out of focus groups.