GVT’s box-shaped OX truck: Thinking outside the box

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Published: December 10, 2018 1:46:53 AM

Through clever design, the two-wheel-drive OX is claimed to have most attributes of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but without the compromises.

The vehicle is part of Shell India’s ‘OX to India’ initiative—a potential mobility solution for accessible, efficient, all-terrain transportation

It looks like a truck from a century ago, but has the capabilities that you might not find in even some of the most modern machines. Called the OX, this truck is a result of a global partnership between Shell and Gordon Murray Design (GMD) and the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT)—a British charity established in 2013 to develop a cheap and rugged vehicle for rural areas in developing countries.

On Saturday, the OX was showcased by Shell India at its Make the Future event in Chennai, where the energy major also launched ‘OX to India’—a potential mobility solution for accessible, efficient, all-terrain transportation.

“It is a simple-to-maintain truck, suitable for the diverse and rugged Indian terrain of deep sands, steep hills, marshy lands, and steep river banks in hard-to-reach communities. It is also the world’s first flat-pack truck—it can be assembled from a flat-pack kit inless than 12 hours and transported in greater numbers to where it is needed more quickly,” said Nitin Prasad, chairman, Shell Companies in India. “It is an effort by Shell to empower communities living in the interiors of the country, by providing an effective transportation solution.”

Why is the OX different?

Two-wheel drive: Four-wheel-drive systems add weight, complexity and cost to a vehicle. They reduce ground clearance and increase tyre wear and fuel consumption. Through clever design, the two-wheel-drive OX is claimed to have most attributes of a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but without the compromises.

Ground clearance: Covering rough ground depends less on the number of driven wheels than the balance and the ground clearance of a vehicle. The OX is driven by two wheels, which allows a lot more ground clearance, without the need for larger and more expensive wheels and tyres. Also, its wide wheelbase allows it to follow the tracks of larger vehicles on unpaved roads. Its water-wading depth is a claimed 1 metre, enough to traverse flooded terrain.

Grip: The OX grips the surface effectively because of its fully independent OXGlide suspension on all four wheels.

Powertrain: It uses a 2.2-litre diesel engine sourced from Ford. But due to its innovative design, it can be switched to even an electrical system.

Structure: Its external shell is made of waterproof bonded wood composite, and its glass panels are flat, all of which keep initial costs low. It can carry a payload of 1,900-kg.

However, as of now, the OX is not available for sale, and GVT, which has developed the vehicle, is exploring market opportunities, including local partners for manufacturing. Over the next few months, Shell India will help GVT engage with prospective partners.

“Limited mobility restricts access to basic amenities in remote areas. We are 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 promising technology having immense potential to broaden access to transport possibilities. We hope this versatile vehicle will be instrumental in transforming lives and overcoming daily accessibility challenges,” added Prasad.

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