OX: the flat-pack truck designed for developing nations


May 21, 2013

Billed as the world's first flatpack truck, OX can be assembled by three people in under 12 hours once it reaches its destination

Billed as the world's first flatpack truck, OX can be assembled by three people in under 12 hours once it reaches its destination

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OX is a lightweight, high-payload truck invented by toymaker, adventurer, and philanthropist Sir Torquil Norman with the aim of providing a simple, robust and cost-effective work-horse in developing nations. The 1,500-kilogram (1.6-ton) truck can be assembled from a flatpack package within a day and is capable of transporting 13 people, eight 44-gallon oil drums, or a total of 2,000 kilograms (2.2 tons) in weight.

Manufactured by UK-based Global Vehicle Trust (GVT) – a charitable subsidiary of the inventor’s own Norman Trust charity – the OX was designed from scratch to be amenable to quick-and-easy repairs. Most of the truck’s panels are interchangeable from one side to the other, and the fewest possible components were used to speed up the time needed for assembly from flat-pack.

Six ready-to-assemble OX flat-pack units (including engine and transmission) will fit into a standard shipping container, and, according to GVT, it takes three people around five and a half hours to fold the truck into a flat-pack. On reaching its eventual destination, OX then requires another trio of local professional mechanics to expend approximately 11.5 hours to get it road-ready.

OX sports a wide track and independent suspension to facilitate stability on poor-quality roads. High ground clearance and a 2.2-liter diesel engine should add to OX’s off-road readiness, and the front-wheel drive vehicle can motor through up to 75 cm (30 inches) of water. When unloaded, 73 percent of the truck’s weight is placed over the front axle, and even when fully loaded this amount is still 53 percent – a weight distribution that lends itself to good traction.

OX also features a power takeoff that allows the truck’s engine output to be routed for tasks such as pumping water, sawing wood, or running a generator. As the vehicle is still in the prototype stage, there are no measurements available yet, nor more detailed specs. However, the company has likened its length to that of a typical car.

Though OX is primarily focused toward serving as a transportation solution for developing nations, GVT anticipates interest from European farmers, estate owners, and other similar parties. All profits from the sale of fully-assembled vehicles will be used to further develop OX and similar products for charitable purposes. OX will reportedly cost £10,000 - £15,000 (roughly US$15,000 - $22,000) when it reaches market.

Source: GVT

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Adam Williams Adam scours the globe from his home in North Wales in order to bring the best of innovative architecture and sustainable design to the pages of Gizmag. Most of his spare time is spent dabbling in music, tinkering with old Macintosh computers and trying to keep his even older VW bus on the road. All articles by Adam Williams

Yeah, way too expensive. Good idea though.


It has nothing the market already does not apart from being overpriced.


Why can't we just stick to 1000Kg being exactly 1Ton...

Michiel Mitchell

Those reported sale prices need to be reduced by two thirds to make it viable in developing nations.


The power takeoff is nice but the intended market would be better off buying used Ford pickups.


I think the point is that importing 'used Ford pick-ups' just isn't a viable option for the many of the target markets: Ford pick-ups are (relatively) sophisticated, spares are expensive and the vehicles difficult to transport to the intended users in the first place.

They're also (in the rest of World where gas tends to be less cheap than in the USA) a tad thirsty.

Conduct an analysis of the likely through life costs of ownership and the proposed price range may begin to look more attractive?


I knew there are still some Remarkable Britons!

Edgar Castelo

Remember the "AFRICAR" of the 80-ies made of wood and Citroen parts intended for local production and local conditions.


There is none metrics ton ? 1000Kg = 1tone , where i am

Etienne Couritas

thk, exactly. For example Kia's K2700 is offered for less than $19,000 in the most basic version in many developing countries. And other companies offer comparable vehicles. Slowburn, used Ford pickups in the same load range are fuel hogs. I have a Ford Ranger here in Costa Rica that has a nice 4 cylinder diesel that's pretty economical on fuel. But the Ford's full size pickups that you can put 2 tons in the bed of, all have big 8 to 12 cylinder behemoths under the hood if I'm not mistaken. Also in most developing countries, getting replacement parts for Ford's means going to the Ford dealer, which is prohibitively expensive. Which is why I'll be getting an Asian pickup next time, even though I'm otherwise happy with the Ford.

Siegfried Gust

It very much looks like the Mercedes Unimog UX100 which go for 10k used and have 4WD.


This simple, clean and design would lend itself to Bill Allison's bogied 8 wheel suspension designs since that would provide far less rolling resistance as evidenced by billions of rail cars, plus even better traction and safety.

Sir Alex Moulton grew up aware of Bill's Packard torsion suspension. In his retirement Bill lamented that having spent a lifetime as a suspension designer, having designed for Hudson, Packard and Ford, he finally solved the design issue then.

Proof of concept is readily achieved with small models on an inclined plane. The 8 wheel versions alway roll far greater distances.

The Japanese professor fully understood this and it can be seen in his designs for the Elica and the earlie vehicle that carried 19 and traveled at 200mph.

With 8 wheels you do not need the tires to be so fat. Motorcycle wheels would work.

When I talked with Sir Alex it was a thrill to know that he and his buddies had enjoyed the self leveling quality of the Packard Caribbean by jumping in and out of the car. It would have been fun to watch.

If the Brits are open to an American Design they might have super success.

Lewis Dickens

This appears, from the data and pictures, to have the potential to be a commercially viably design. As with most vehicles, the core issues are manufacturing capability, cost control, developmental talent, sales distribution, and safety regulations compliance.

If produced, it would be filling a market gap that is not presently well met. I wish the promoters the best of success.

Marvin McConoughey

You all appear to be rather overlooking the value of getting 6 into a 20ft ISO container. Freight to many places in Afric is horrendous.

Lindsey Roke

While the objections to the Ford pickups have some validity I stand by my assertion that a used ford is a better option than the OX. American pickups are over designed you can expect a "half ton" to handle the same load while pulling another 5 tons as a trailer without seriously degrading the gas mileage. Don't try this at highway speeds or on steep hills as the brakes didn't get the same over design.


@Lindsey Roke

I'm with you. What would six fords cost to get to Africa?

@slowburn Always count on slowburn for instant criticism- do you actually DO anything or are you just a professional critic?

My experience with modern American half-ton trucks is that they are NOT over-engineered.

They are built largely for the passenger car market- which comprises serious numbers of their sales.

In Africa, which one will be easier to work on?

Many modern trucks have ridiculously complex service protocols- like remove the body to remove the cylinder head.

Many automatic transmissions no longer even have dipsticks...

If the Brits are listening- keep it AS EASY TO SERVICE AND REPAIR as it is to assemble and you will NEVER face competition from Ford,etc.!

I have not met a mechanic yet who says that the newer vehicles are easier to work on than the older ones and I have discussed this extensively with many.


If gas is that expensive, and parts as well, why not an electric version? I've seen electric ambulances used in remote parts of Africa already. We're probably talking about equatorial regions and below after all, which means plenty of sun and likely limited range requirements due to road conditions. Assembling it would be far easier, and maintenance on electrics is far cheaper and less frequent than gas/diesel motors. Also, a very good trade-off re: torque vs speed.

John Matthias

re; Griffin

Bad design is bad design but removing the body to facilitate major engine work is not ridiculous, having to dismount the engine to change spark plugs is.

re; John Matthias

Any electric ambulance in the remote parts of Africa didn't serve the community at large. Electric vehicles are pathetically short ranged and and are simply not cost effective.


As has been pointed out, the Ford pick-ups (used or new) were designed for government 'viro regulated markets where the priorities of functionality, simplicity, ease of repair, and cost have been egregiously subordinated to emissions control and other "environmental impact" concerns.

Only the extremely wealthy (in absolute world-wide terms) can afford to suffer that kind of pathologically parasitic political correctness.

Folks in the "disadvantaged" regions of the world can't survive that kind of strangulating feel-good bullpuckey.

For that reason, if no other, the presentation of vehicle designs like this one have tremendous value. By taking into consideration not only delivery costs and ease of maintenance but also the "market niche" left spectacularly unfilled by the most commonly available Western vehicles.

For those who make the "used Ford pick-up" argument, consider how the U.S. military stipulated the design and the overseas shipping mode for the Willys MB "Jeep," which was specified as:

"...a general purpose, personnel, or cargo carrier especially adaptable for reconnaissance or command, and designated as 1/4-ton 4x4 Truck."

During World War II, when shipping space was at a premium, whole jeeps (not spare parts, but everything required to assemble a single vehicle) were individually crated in a flat box and sent overseas that way for assembly at their destinations.

The principles behind this new design are well-understood and quite valid.


re; Tucci78

They took of the steering wheel and tires. and folded the windshield down. and put it in a crate.


Didn't GM try this in the '70s? And didn't it go down like a lead balloon?

However, China exports 1000's of flat-pack mopeds to SubSaharan Africa, so there might be something in this... If the trucks were produced in China. (re. price)

Robin Sutherland
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