What do the most dominant Formula One car in history, the most celebrated road-going supercar in history, a clever little city car project and a flat-pack truck designed for remotest Africa all have in common? They have all emerged from the mind of renowned automotive designer Gordon Murray.
Murray’s latest automotive revolution is called the Global Vehicle Trust OX, and it has just been unveiled in London today. A 3.5-tonne commercial vehicle, the OX is designed to provide low-cost all-terrain mobility for remote parts of Africa and the developing world.
Every aspect of the vehicle design has been aimed towards a harsh operating environment, with few roads and even fewer servicing points. Despite being shorter than a Volkswagen Golf, it can carry 1.9 tonnes of payload and has a load volume of 7.0m3. Best of all, six of the vehicles can be flat-packed into a 40-foot shipping container, and a team of three should be able to assemble an OX in about 12 hours.
Improving mobility in remote parts of the world
The brief for the OX came from the Global Vehicle Trust and its founder, Sir Torquil Norman. The ambition of the Trust is to help people in the developing world by providing cost-effective mobility.
The requirements for a vehicle operating in remote and hostile terrain are significant. 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.
Murray and his team responded with a brilliant piece of packaging. Like his seminal McLaren F1, Murray’s OX features a central driving position with a passenger either side. However, this was not for performance reasons; road laws in Africa are incredibly inconsistent, with a mix of right-hand and left-hand traffic – sometimes in the same countries. A central driving position caters for any requirements.
The Golf-sized OX can carry double the payload of most modern pick-up trucks at 1,900kg, and can transport up to 13 people – or eight 44-gallon drums, or three Euro-pallets. A particularly neat trick is the detachable rear tailgate, which can be turned lengthways and used as a loading ramp.
In keeping with its load-bearing duties, the OX is powered by a 2.2-litre diesel engine, driven through a 5-speed manual gearbox. It only generates 100hp, but offers 310Nm of torque to allow it to maintain performance when heavily laden.
A flat-pack vehicle assembly revolution
Key to the project’s ambition is the flat-pack assembly of the vehicles. A team of three people in the UK can assemble the flat-pack componentry in less than six hours. Six flat-pack vehicles can fit into a 40-foot high-cube shipping container for transport, and a team of three in the destination country can assemble the OX in 12 hours. It is hoped that assembly and maintenance industries will develop in multiple countries, providing employment for skilled local workers.
And now comes the tricky bit…
Now that working prototypes have been built and completed what Sir Torquil Norman describes as “a comprehensive testing programme”, the Global Vehicle Trust is looking for investors to take the OX into production.
“Our priority now is to raise the funding to complete the testing and take the project to fruition,” said Norman. “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.”