What do Formula 1 racecars and Ikea furniture have in common? Well nothing actually, however in this instance former Formula 1 engineer Gordon Murray has used flat pack construction has inspiration for a new low-cost transport solution.
Called the Ox, this compact light truck is designed to be built as a low-cost kit in the UK before being shipped to developing parts of Africa where it can be assembled quickly and easily and put into use - that's a world away from Murray's previous projects, including the McLaren F1.
Although not much larger than a small hatchback, the Ox has a payload of two tonnes, making it more practical than a cab-chassis ute, and the flexible design means it can carry anything from thee pallets, to ten passengers in the rear, with a fold-down ramp in the tailgate to ease loading and unloading.
Construction sees a ladder frame chassis underpinning the platform, with bonded wooden panels (which are the same left-to-right) making up the bodywork, and providing additional torsional rigidity while keeping weight down.
The body is designed so that the panels, and glazing, all of which are flat, can fit between the chassis rails, meaning the Ox doesn’t need to be crated for shipping, saving cost and space.
Six Ox kits, including engine and transmission can be packed into a single 12 metre shipping container, with assembly said to take a team of three less than 12 hours without the need for special tools - and just like an Ikea package, all the tools required are included with the Ox.
The mechanical package borrows a 73kW 2.2 litre diesel from the Ford Transit, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox and front wheel drive. Suspension is via a simple fully independent leading/trailing arm setup.
Four wheel drive is a possibility, according to Murray, but thanks to the high ground clearance and short front and rear overhangs, the Ox performs well enough off road that the added cost and complexity may not be required.
Right now the Ox is just a prototype, with the company responsible for bringing it to life, Global Vehicle Trust, on the hunt for investors to make it a production reality. Until that happens there’s no word on pricing, but with the aim of putting some of the poorest regions in the world on wheels that target will need to be set remarkably low.