OX gets ready to plough
An inventive Brit builds an all-purpose truck for Africa, in Swedish-style flat-packs
A DIRT-cheap flat-pack truck that takes just 11 hours to build could revolutionise trucking in Africa.
It’s called the OX and it has been designed to make lives of people living in some of the most remote places on the planet easier by providing them an affordable method of moving cargo and people.
The OX is the brainchild of British toy tycoon, aviator and philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman (pictured), who set about designing a simple and affordable truck to cart everyday items in parts of Africa.
He hopes the innovative machine will enable people in remote villages to deliver produce and other items to larger cities.
‘‘ If it works it will enable kids to stay in villages rather than move to urban slums, and the economies of the whole continent could eventually be affected,’’ Norman says.
‘‘ The OX could provide an essential element of infrastructure to enable the local population raise the community’s standard of living and to assert its independence by gaining control of its transportation needs and costs.’’
Having developed a prototype, Norman has gone public and aims to raise money to make the truck a production reality. In production, the OX could cost $16,000-$30,000.
An all-terrain light duty truck, the OX can ford streams up to 75cm deep and carry up to 2000kg, eight oil drums, three Euro pallets or 13 people.
It weighs only 1500kg and is propelled by a robust 2.2-litre four-cylinder diesel with a power coupling— as in the Mercedes Unimog— to operate a water pump or air compressor.
It is front-wheel drive but has been designed for maximum traction, with 73 per cent of weight over the axle when empty and 53 per cent fully loaded.
Simplicity is the key for Norman. The rig has independent suspension to navigate challenging terrain and a flat, uncluttered underbody to avoid getting caught on rocks or tree roots. Many panels are interchangeable from one side to the other and the windscreen comes in three sections— if one is broken it can be replaced for less than an entire windscreen. Shipping vehicles to Africa is not cheap but this has also been considered.
The OX would be shipped to Africa in a flat pack, Ikea-style, or in car industry parlance CKD (complete knock down). Crating up is simplified too— some of the OX panels form a cargo box that the other components fit in, so six OX packs can fit into a shipping container, as opposed to two or three regular light duty trucks.
Norman says assembly in Britain would take three people just over five hours. In Africa, three people with moderate skills and simple tools would take 111/ 2hours.