You Can Assemble the World’s First Flatpack Truck in 12 Hours, Just Like an Ikea Bookshelf
From directly below your backside the clatter of the Ford Transit engine courses into the cabin. But it’s not ridiculously loud. Certainly not considering that there’s no added sound insulation at all. You can thank the intrinsic absorbency of the wooden-composite construction.
I’m driving the prototype with a six-speed box, standard from European Transits. The OX team has now found a five-speed from the Chinese version, and it’ll make more sense because you will never need sixth. The shifts are heavy and imprecise, and the steering heavy. You bounce around on the sweaty plastic of the zero-support seat.
But you know what? It’s fun. It just romps along, pretty well unstoppably, and feels uncannily stable. Ground clearance and approach angle are extraordinary.
Murray is especially proud of the ride. It doesn’t have that exhausting and destructive shudder of trucks with heavy live axles. Which means this will be great for transporting sensitive medical equipment, or even patients as an ambulance. Never mind 10 people on simple hard benches in the rear.
The side exhaust and under-seat air intake are well-protected, and they mean the wading ability is a belly-button-deep 1,300mm. “We tried going deeper but it floated,” says Murray.
Having three separate windscreens means they can be swapped. If in a remote place the driver’s gets smashed by a rock, he can borrow a passenger’s.
Such parts-swapping is central to keeping an OX on the move in remote places. The left and right suspension arms are interchangeable. Every one of the left-hand body panels simply flip over to fit on the right. All of which keeps the inventory low. And all the body panels are flat, so they’re cheap to make and compact to ship.
Meanwhile the diesel powertrain, the brakes and wheels come from a Ford Transit, so they’re easy to get hold of. The OX runs on 16-inch wheels, as per a Land Rover, so tyres are everywhere too.
The 16s might look like castors, but that’s because the OX is a tall and wide vehicle. The bench seat is designed for three, but five mates could squeeze abreast. The rear bed is huge. It’ll take three pallets, or eight 200-litre drums, or 13 people. You just know, from looking at pictures of groaningly overloaded Hiluxes, that it would be used for much, much more.
All over the OX, parts play double use. The rear bench seats double as sand ladders. The canopy can be taken off and used as an emergency shelter. The tailgate is a ramp. Best of all, the OX comes with a blockable front brake on one side. You can jack it up, attach an output flange in place of the opposite wheel, and it becomes a six-speed power take off for generators and pumps.
And most of all, despite its strength, the OX has an extraordinary weight-to-payload ratio. It weighs just over 1,700kg ready to roll, but can carry another 1,800kg. Most pickups weigh much more yet will shoulder much less. A standard Ford F150 or ToyotaHilux takes barely 1,000kg.