Regular fans of The Root will know that we get excited about all kinds of cars and other vehicles, and we also love sharing news about projects that benefit people’s lives. With these two passions in mind, along with our reckoning that plenty of our young car insurance customers aged 17-30 will either have attempted to put flat-pack furniture together for their own places or helped relatives or friends to do so, we wanted to share some potentially world-improving news with you.
Here in the UK, most of us live relatively cushy lives, but in developing countries like Africa, things that we take for granted such as getting hold of clean drinking water, transporting or obtaining basic food or materials, catching public transport or phoning for an ambulance are sometimes considered to be luxuries.
Thanks to a generous, charitable entrepreneur called Sir Torquil Norman, and plenty of help from Gordon Murray who designed the McLaren F1 road-going racing car that Mr Bean (well, Rowan Atkinson) owned until very recently, Africa and other developing countries will hopefully be given a massive helping hand because of a vehicle they’ve invented.
Called the OX, this life-changing vehicle is basically a flat-pack truck, rather like something that IKEA would sell if they added vehicles to their catalogues and showrooms. Being flat-packed makes the truck much easier to ship around the world more cheaply and in greater quantities, getting help to where it’s needed. I know plenty of people, myself included, who’ve struggled to put together an IKEA bookcase without taking ages and ending up with bruised thumbs, so it’s pretty impressive to learn that the entire OX truck can be assembled in just twelve hours by a team of three people.
Six flat-packed trucks can be transported by ship in a typical 40ft-high cube container and the way the OX is designed is brilliant. Despite being just two-wheel drive, it is capable of tackling rough terrain, which is great for more remote countries around the world. The rear cargo area can be removed and turned into a ramp making it easier to load stuff onto the truck, and the bench seats in the back can also be taken out and used as tools for digging the wheels out of soft ground if the vehicle gets stuck. The OX’s driver sits in the middle of the cab, meaning it’s equally suitable for countries that drive on the left or on the right, and even though it’s shorter than most SUVs, it can carry 1,900kg of stuff, thirteen people, three Euro-pallets or eight 44-gallon drums.
Cheap to produce, easy to ship and assemble, able to drive on different terrains and huge enough for carrying all kinds of stuff in the back, the OX is an incredible vehicle, and Torquil and Gordon hope they can now attract plenty of funding and orders from global aid and charity agencies to turn it into a reality all around the developing world.