Gordon Murray has a habit of shaking things up. His latest project may not be the most exciting. But it could be the most revolutionary – and the most important to the greatest number of people.
We first caught wind of the Ox about a year and a half ago. Murray designed it to be cheap to manufacture, ship in flat packs, and assemble at its destination. According to the company, three skilled people can put an OX together in approximately 12 hours. Sort of like Ikea furniture, but in a truck that can haul a lot over all manner of terrain.
The project is funded by the Global Vehicle Trust. Its the mission is to transport people and goods to under-developed parts of the world. Like India, for example. Which is exactly where it’s headed.
Next Stop: India
Shell is teaming up with Gordon Murray Design and the Global Vehicle Trust to take a pre-production Ox to the sub-continent. Called the “Ox to India” mission, it seeks to test in real-world conditions how the vehicle could be used to help impoverished, hard-to-reach places.
“The OX to India demonstration will see the concept validated and discussed on the ground in a real world setting,” said Shell EVP Huibert Vigeveno. (That’s him sitting in the truck, between Murray and GVT founder Sir Torquil Norman.) “We know limited mobility in hard-to-reach communities in developing economies can restrict access to basic services, and can limit the effectiveness of efforts to improve the quality of life. The OX has the potential to broaden access to transport possibilities and all the resulting benefits that come with this.”
The vehicle is about the size of a Toyota RAV4, but exchanges its refinement and style for raw capability and cost-effectiveness. The Ox can haul over 4,000 pounds (1,900 kg) and nearly 250 cubic feet on its back. That translates to eight 44-gallon drums (of drinking water for example), three Euro-standard pallets (of food and medical supplies, or 13 people (who might otherwise have to walk to where they need to go).
It’s powered by the 2.2-liter diesel engine from a Ford Transit van. The whole thing ships flat so you can fit six of them in a standard 40-foot container. The prototype is scheduled to set sail for India sometime later this year.