Transport problems still plague developing nations across the world. People across such countries are often deprived of basic necessities like food, water and medicine due to uncertainty over availability of efficient transport solutions. When Sir Torquil Norman founded his Global Vehicle Trust in 2011, one thought was clear in his mind – to ‘develop cost-effective mobility solutions for the developing nations’.
Sir Norman’s brief to world-renowned car designer, Professor Gordon Murray, was a low-cost vehicle having high load capacity and manoeuvrability across diversified terrains and that too, in a flat pack design. Eventually, the vehicle GVT OX was based on Gordon Murray Design’s flexible iStream technology and was unveiled globally with a payload of 1,900 kg and load volume of 7.0 m3 in 2016.
GVT has spent € three million to develop the working prototype of OX that has also undergone rigorous durability and reliability tests at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, UK and also at the IDIADA Test Facility in Catalonia, Spain.
The OX truck can be squeezed within its own frame in less than six hours at GVT’s London facility. Subsequently, this allows packing as many as six OX trucks (as against two fully assembled vehicles) in a 40 ft container for quicker transportation across the world. GVT claims such an approach not only helps in saving assembly line manufacturing costs, but also reaps import duty benefits, wherever applicable.
OX's external shell consists of a flat, waterproof bonded wood composite that is slip resistant and wear resistant for longer life of a vehicle. The main body panels, including the doors, are interchangeable left-to-right that allows body part optimisation. Three glass windscreen panels are also identical and flat in nature so that any glass can be interchanged in case of breakages.
The heart of multi-purpose vehicle OX is a lightweight yet strong steel chassis and its external shell consists of a flat, waterproof bonded wood composite. The platform is a bespoke welded steel ladder chassis with folded ‘C’ sections across the rails, diagonal cross-bracing and lightening holes with design input from CAE analysis. Around 70 % of the vehicle weight lies on front wheels and when it becomes fully loaded, the design chassis allows for an equal balance for better traction and stability. The tailgate does not merely contain the load in the back; it detaches completely from the OX and can be rotated lengthways to double as a loading ramp. The OX also has a Power Take-off (PTO) system to make the truck qualify for a range of applications.
Inside the cabin, the dashboard reflects 'T-shape' graphic of an ox’s horns and gets a central dashboard column with casing between the driver legs for a complete sub-assembly of controls like power assisted steering, cable gearshift, and brake system. The central driving position was designed by Professor Murray keeping in mind different driving norms in developing nations (right or left handed).
GMD has leveraged graphics and colour coding to communicate clear instructions and procedures for the build team during assembly. The kit design team's hardest challenge was to enable engine installation without a crane or hoist. Thus, the designers packaged the engine on the base of the transport crate at a precise angle for installation. Thus, when the kit gets unpacked, the chassis can be lifted over and down onto the engine, where it is fixed in position, before the whole frame and powertrain is jacked up. The final assembly of the OX takes approximately 12 hr with a team of three semi-skilled people.
The OX is engineered with a 2.2 l diesel unit sourced from Ford that produces a maximum of 99 hp and 310 Nm torque. The engine is mated to a five-speed transmission. The multi-purpose vehicle rides a fully independent OXGlide suspension on all four wheels applying a hydraulic leading and hydraulic trailing arm set-up to make the vehicle more stable during off-road operations. The suspension arms are designed with identical wish bones on both sides to keep the initial cots low. In order to reduce them further, along with weight as well as complexity of the vehicle, Professor Murray opted for a two-wheel drive system for the OX. This allowed the vehicle to have more ground clearance with 400 mm at the mid-wheelbase point without any demand for bigger wheels. OX also has the ability to traverse flooded terrain due to its wading capability in a water depth of up to 780 mm.
OX IN INDIA
Shell recently unveiled the OX in India at its ‘Make the Future’ event at the Madras Motor Race Track, Chennai. The OX will run exclusively on Shell fluids including Shell Rimula, a high-performing diesel engine oil designed to help heavy duty and light duty engines to run efficiently in demanding conditions. For a country like India that is a home to around 18 % of the world's population, Shell with OX aims at addressing the intense need for improved transport – for both everyday living as well as emergencies to benefit people living in remote villages and townships across the nation.