The flat-pack truck set to transform African roads

Generally, if you want to purchase a vehicle, you’ll have to rely on someone else to do the building for you. The reason for this is clear: the majority of us aren’t trained mechanics, and an awful lot can go dangerously wrong if you don’t know what you’re doing. The disadvantages though, are equally clear: a ready-assembled vehicle is expensive, bulky and takes up an awful lot of space.[gallery:1]

F1 designer Gordon Murray has come up with a new way of looking at the problem, with a special focus on developing nations where reliable ground transport can be pretty unreliable. The OX truck is a 60-piece flat-pack vehicle that can be built by three laypeople in just 11 and a half hours. That’s half a day that could be spent driving the thing, you may point out, but the real advantage here is how easy they are to ship. A 40ft shipping container would squeeze two trucks in, but in flat-pack form, that number can be tripled.

Price is also a factor. The one tonne vehicle is constructed from low-cost marine plywood, meaning that the costs are considerably lower than regular vehicles. But despite this flimsy sounding construction, and being a two-wheel drive vehicle, the 4-cylinder, 16-valve diesel Ford PT22 engine can carry up to two tonnes of weight, thanks to its low centre of gravity. It’ll keep on trucking through 750mm of water, and will keep running for around 620 miles without filling up.[gallery:7]

A utilitarian bumpy ride, you might imagine. Well, probably. But despite this, Top Gear seemed impressed when they gave the prototype a spin. “It just romps along, pretty well unstoppably, and feels uncannily stable. Ground clearance and approach angle are extraordinary,” they wrote.

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