THE WORLD’S FIRST FLATPACK VEHICLE DESIGNED FOR RUGGED TERRAIN
The world’s first flatpack vehicle was launched last week — but you won’t be able to buy it.
Nevertheless, three people can put it together in 12 hours, using all the parts that are packed together — many inside one another — in a clever compact kit form. Called the OX, and expected to cost between $18,000 and $27,000, the innovative British vehicle has been created by F1 and supercar designer Professor Gordon Murray in conjunction with entrepreneur, philanthropist and former pilot Sir Torquil Norman.
It is designed to provide a low-cost, back-to-basics, all-terrain small truck that can operate on and off-road and help communities in remote parts of Africa and the developing world to transport water, food, medicines, fertilisers, building materials and people.
But it is also expected to attract attention from farmers and landowners in Britain and Europe who want a low-cost load-lugger.
What makes the OX unique is clever design, making it relatively easy to pack and stack — like flat-pack furniture — to transport to its destination.
It can be put together with minimal tools (though anyone who has spent countless hours with an Allen key, screwdriver and head-scratchingly challenging instruction diagram may beg to differ).
Its creators say three people can create each car flat-pack in less than six hours ready for shipping from Britain, and that six flat-pack cars can be stacked in a single 12m high container.
Once delivered to its destination, it takes three people half a day to construct each car from the compact flat-pack.
Inspired by the shelved “Africar” project of the 1980s, Norman founded the Global Vehicle Trust five years ago to pursue his ambition to help people in the developing world by providing cost-effective mobility.
Murray, who created the legendary McLaren F1 supercar, was brought on board to create an equally revolutionary lightweight truck that will cope with the roughest roads.
The front cab of the OX seats three people with the driver sitting centrally.
Shorter than a sports utility vehicle it can carry twice the weight — nearly 2 tonnes — of cargo. That could be up to 13 people, eight 44 gallon drums, or three large pallets.
Powered by a 2 litre diesel engine linked to a 5-speed manual gear-box, the top speed of the OX is around 120km/h with acceleration from rest to 90km/h. A spokesman for the Global Vehicle Trust said: “The brief for the vehicle called for high ground-clearance, excellent approach and departure angles, large wheel movement, a multi-purpose layout and a three-person cab.”
Having the driver in the middle seat of three gets around the problem of some developing countries driving on the right, while others drive on the left. Though drive is through just two of the wheels, it has been engineered to perform “as well as, or better than” a 4WD vehicle across a range of surfaces.
A light but strong steel chassis is complemented by a shell of waterproof bonded wood composite. The three flat glass windscreen panels are interchangeable in case of breakages, as are the main body and door panels.
There are other innovations. The tailgate detaches completely and can be rotated lengthways to double as a loading ramp.
The rear bench seat bases can be removed from the vehicle and used as “sand ladders” under the wheels to help the OX traverse challenging soft ground. Launching three prototypes as part of a £3m development over five years, Global Vehicle Trust is now seeking investors and backers to put the OX into full production.
Norman said: “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.”