ONE of the major technical advancements of the 20th century was flat-pack furniture and all of us can laugh about those fun Sunday afternoons when, armed with an Allen key and a Phillips-head screwdriver, we sat on the floor and assembled an entertainment unit.
Now a British group, Global Vehicle Trust, has taken the notion of flat-pack seemingly to its limit, developing the world's first flat-pack truck called the OX, a vehicle designed to provide low-cost, all-terrain mobility for the developing world.
OX sprung from the imagination of Sir Torquil Norman and has been designed to tackle almost every transport challenge from collecting drinking water to transporting grain, fertiliser or building materials.
Five years ago Sir Torquil founded the Global Vehicle Trust to help people in the developing world by providing cost-effective mobility, bringing onboard renowned automotive designer Professor Gordon Murray to create a revolutionary lightweight truck.
The design brief? High ground clearance with matching approach and departure angles, plenty of suspension articulation and wheel travel, a multi-purpose tray design and a three-person cab.
Gordon Murray's design incorporates all of that and also includes the flat-pack layout for shipping and ease of manufacture, both in the factory and at its point of construction.
Global Vehicle Trust's priority now is to raise the funding needed to finalise the project and realise Sir Torquil's dream of one day seeing an OX in every village.
In real terms, it's shorter than a large SUV but can carry up to 1900 kilograms with its seven cubic metre load volume. It can carry eight 200-litre drums or three standard Euro-pallets and, as a bus, can seat up to 13 people.
OX is 4229mm long, 2070mm wide and 2302mm high. It tips the scales at 1.6 tonnes, and the prototype is powered by a proprietary 2.2-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine developing 75 kilowatts. The engine drives through a five-speed manual gearbox.
To skirt the design and build cost of developing the OX for left- and right-hand-drive countries, the driver sits in the middle of the cab with a passenger seat either side.
Global Vehicle Trust says an OX can be flat-packed for shipping by three people in less than six hours and re-assembled by three skilled people in 12 hours.
Beyond its revolutionary packaging design and all-terrain ability, the OX is full of design innovations.
The tailgate, for example, can be completely removed, turned lengthways and used as a loading ramp. The rear bench seat bases also have a dual purpose, their long ‘egg crate' frames able to be removed from the vehicle and placed under the wheels as ‘sand ladders' to help the odd little truck across challenging soft ground.
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