Earlier this year, Shell announced that they would bring a mobility solution unlike any other to India. It's called the Ox and it's an all-terrain truck, that was an idea conceived by the Gordon Murray Design team with Shell joining into the process along the way. According to them the Ox is the world's Flat-Pack Truck, and what they mean by that is that the entire truck can be repackaged into a flat pack that Shell say can be assembled by 3 moderately skilled people in less than 12 hours. This means that the truck can be made accessible at negligible cost to very inaccessible areas or high risk areas (floods and natural calamity affected zones). Once fully assembled the truck is theoretically capable of carrying up to 13 people and a respectable payload of goods.
Speaking on the iniative Nitin Prasad, Chairman, Shell companies in India said "Limited mobility restricts access to basic amenities in remote areas. Shell is eager to contribute to developing and promoting effective mobility solutions thereby improving the quality of life of people in these areas. The OX is a very promising technology having immense potential to broaden access to transport possibilities. We are pleased to partner with GMD and GVT and hope this versatile vehicle will be instrumental in transforming lives and overcoming daily accessibility challenge"
As of now Shell had commissioned a prototype for testing in India, and Gordon Murray delivered the ATV that you see splashed on this page but there are some obstacles that both of these companies driving this concept are going to face. For one, Neither Shell nor Gordon Murray Design have the ability to manufacture this truck in India and would need an OEM partner to actually bring this concept to life. More importantly however, it's still not road legal or rated to carry people, so as of now even for the testing cycle it is rated for commercial use only .Amazingly, all the panels you see on the truck are made of a composite wood board that is not only cheaper than the equivalent composite fibre but is stronger and needs no moulding and saves on manufacturing costs. So what it is, then, is a great idea that's waiting for someone to pick it up.
How much will it cost then ? We'll that's something that neither team is willing to put a number to yet, but they say it's very inexpensive and could get even more so if OEMs manage to get it to scale.
As of now it's going through a commercial testing cycle in India, and Shell say they are going to start talking to OEMs to see if there are takers. In our mind, this would be a great product to ship to smaller OEMs, that they could manufacture and sell themselves. Given the low input costs and fairly easy manufacturing process, this is one model that could work. It would push local business’ -in line with the Make-In-India initiative -- with no r&d costs and get a easy to assemble well developed product in exchange.