Right-hand-drive vehicles can be disorienting if you don’t live in the UK, Japan, Australia, or any of the dozens of countries that use them. But in Ukraine, right-hand drive trucks have helped protect some military drivers in the ongoing conflict with Russia — all because Russians aren’t used to seeing the driver on the wrong side.
Insider has thefascinating story today of Car4Ukraine, a non-profit devoted to getting old British farm trucks off those mountains green and into the hands of Ukrainian soldiers. Insider spoke with Ivan Oleksii, who works on the Car4Ukraine team. Oleksii tells Insider the organization has shipped more than 100 vehicles from the UK, mostly old farm trucks that can be bought and transported for cheap. These vehicles are prized as life-saving transportation:
British trucks come in many models and makes, but they all have one thing in common: the driver’s seat is on the right-hand side.
This slight difference to other trucks and vehicles on the front line has saved the lives of many Ukrainian soldiers, Oleksii told Insider. According to Oleksii, Russian snipers mistakenly aimed for the passenger seat, thinking they’re shooting at the drivers.
Sometimes, Oleksii said, the drivers put dummies in the passenger seat to further cement the decoy.
“They come from a farm, that means they might have some scratches, they might smell bad, but that doesn’t matter. It means they will already cost less,” Oleksii told Insider.
Car4ukraine sources secondhand four-wheel drive diesel trucks with 2.0-liter engines from across Europe. The favored models include the Toyota Hilux and Tundra, the Mitsubishi L200, the Ford Ranger, the Nissan Navara and KingCab, the Isuzu D-Max, the Маzda BT-50 and Mazda B2500, and the Jeep Gladiator. These trucks usually cost €5,500, or roughly $5,800.
But robust British farm trucks, often with more than 100,000 miles on the clock, can be bought for as little as $2,000. A Car4ukraine team member told the Telegraph some farmers hand over the keys for as little as £1 when they hear about the final destination of their trucks.
Once the farm trucks are procured, they receive extensive retrofitting via volunteer mechanics to make them war ready. Throughout the 10-month war, we’ve seen vehicle assembly line workers, truck drivers and tradespeople time and time again showing remarkable fortitude in the face of what once seemed like an overwhelming force. And in combat, the most modest of vehicles can make a difference, like the Chevy Aveo that went to war.
Car4Ukraine is also run by volunteers, mostly expats working to help the war effort in any way they can. The entire Insider story is a great read, and you can find it here.