Because as fun as supercars are, they aren't too good at saving the world.
Ikea inventor Ingvar Kamprad (who has one of the more interesting automotive choices for a billionaire) is known for his inexpensive yet attractive flat-pack furniture, but who would have known that a car company would emerge using the same construction methods as an Ikea desk? Yes, that’s a thing, because Gordon Murray, the same man who’s hands penned the legendary McLaren F1 and other interesting projects, is now working on a startup that sells the world’s first flat-pack truck called the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) Ox.
The Ox is intended to service Africa, a region that’s been struggling to join the developed world. Lack of funds and bad infrastructure are just a few of the many factors that make it hard for African countries to get ahead, but if Murray’s latest plea for funding works, then the Ox may alleviate some of those maladies. His aim is to provide cheap, reliable, and useful transportation, and it turns out that a flat-pack truck can solve those issues. Built on a steel ladder chassis, the front-wheel drive vehicle (the optimal 4x4 layout may be a possibility) is powered by a 2.2-liter inline four diesel from the Ford Transit, which makes 100 horsepower and 229 lb-ft of torque, which is routed via a 6-speed gearbox.
Like the McLaren F1, the driver sits in the middle of the Ox where visibility is good enough to enable them to easily see obstacles when off of the pavement. Disappointingly, this isn’t a shout out to the supercar, it’s a matter of convenience because it means that the truck is symmetrical, cutting down on development costs. It also means that the truck can be sold to left-hand drive or right-hand drive markets without any changes being made. Despite the 2x4 drivetrain, the high ground clearance and short overhangs mean that the Ox is a natural on the rocky roads. To get the Ox to Africa, they can be shipped (up to six units fit in a 40 foot container) and assembled in 12 hours by a three man team.
In contrast, it only takes three builders about 6 hours to build the kit. Talk about efficient. In terms of utility, the Ox has what it takes to tow about two tons and fit 247 cubic feet in the rear storage compartment or eight 44-gallon drums of water (many parts of rural Africa require people to walk miles to collect water for daily use). Alternatively, the rear can be configured to comfortably sit 13 people. When not in use, the frames from the rear seats can be taken off and placed under the drive wheels for traction when traveling over soft slippery surfaces. Even the rear lift gate doubles as a loading ramp. Can’t say the brain behind the McLaren F1 is dull. The only barrier that the truck currently faces is the monetary one.
About $4 million has been spend to get three Ox prototypes to fruition, but Murray hopes that by releasing the three into the spotlight, more donation money will come in. To get his dream to a production line, Murray needs another $4 million, so get your PayPal dollars armed to sponsor a Go Fund Me account whenever that pops up. As exotic as the GVT Ox sounds, it isn't the first car to utilize a flat pack design. Some automakers have gone this route in the past to skate past import taxes while others, like Italy's own Urban Tabby, use the technology to cater to urbanites on a budget. Whatever ends up happening to the GVT Ox, we think it's commendable for Murray to use his talents to help those in need.