Bill Gates and UNCTAD are not the only ones stressing climate change can only end if it involves everyone. Many have said and done things to prevent that. Even Gordon Murray did that with iStream, a manufacturing process that was way more rational for cars. The OX GVT (Global Vehicle Trust) was an effort to allow everyone to have personal transportation everywhere. It has now evolved into promoting the same goals without emissions.
If you are not familiar with the OX, we'll tell you more about it. Murray started developing his flat-pack truck in 2013 and presented it in September 2016. It was called a flat-pack truck because it came in two big packs: one for the powertrain and the other for the rest of the vehicle. While a 40-foot container can only carry two assembled vehicles, it can carry six OX packs. That made it cheaper to transport.
The plan was that when its customers received it, they could assemble it in 5.4 hours with the help of two friends like an Ikea piece of furniture – but Murray said the manual for assembling the OX was way better. Someone without assistance could take about 12 hours to put it together.
The OX’s main body panels were made of WISA-Trans, defined as “a multilayer laminated plywood panel with a slip-resistant finish.” Yes, it was made of wood and resin, which made it immune to corrosion. The truck was 4.68 meters (184.3 inches) long, 2.07 m (81.5 in) wide, 2.39 m (94.1 in) tall, and had a wheelbase of 2.96 m (116.5 in). With a 25 cm (9.8 in) ground clearance, it was a front-wheel-drive vehicle – since 58 percent of the weight was in the front axle. GVT said it could beat very capable off-roaders with its 40º approach angle and 53.5º departure angle.
Just like the McLaren F1, the OX had a central driving position but not to provide a sportier experience. It was like that so that you could sell the OX in any market, regardless of right or left-hand drive.
All parts on each side of the vehicle were interchangeable, which meant you could mount them on either side. That would also make it easier to replace these parts. Another example of how it was conceived for serviceability is that the front glasses had exactly the same sizes: if one broke, you could replace it with any of the other ones and keep on driving.
The most impressive aspect of the OX was that it weighed 1,600 kilograms (3,527 pounds) but could carry 1,900 kg (4,189 lb). There is only one vehicle we are aware of that could carry more than its own mass: the VW Bus. When the OX become electric, things changed.
The crowdfunding campaign in the video above ended successfully on April 20, 2018, but it brought a good explanation about the car – this is why it is embedded here. GVT does not have a working website anymore.
Now called simply OX, the company did not disclose the size of the truck’s battery pack. It just said it could travel more than 100 km (62 mi) fully loaded. According to the company, that maximum load is now 1,800 kg (3,968 lb). We have no idea how much the electric OX weighs, but it would be fantastic if it could retain its capability to transport more than its own mass.
The attack angle has been improved to 50º, the departure angle is now 55º, and the breakover angle is 144º. Its fording depth is 1.30 m (51.2 in). The OXGlide suspension is independent on all four wheels, and it uses a leading-arm and trailing-arm setup, which the company claims to make it more stable over rough ground.
Just like Riversimple, it seems the new OX will not be for sale. The EV ecosystem it proposes is that of Mobility as a Service – or MaaS – but people will not get to pay to drive the car as in Riversimple's case. They will pay to get stuff transported by OX. There would be 3 billion potential customers for that: people that do not own a vehicle but desperately need one.
OX intends to start testing the model in Rwanda from April to December 2021. With 12 million people and 216,000 vehicles, OX believes it will be a fantastic proving ground for its idea. Car ownership there is clearly not common, but cell phones with 2G are standard. This is why it developed a simple app for these phones with the help of Endava for anyone to hire OX services.
Let’s suppose a farmer needs to take its crop to a buyer. He then hires an OX driver to deliver it to the buyer, who confirms the details of delivery on the same app. When this buyer gets the crop, he pays the farmer.
OX believes its MaaS will create a virtuous circle, opening new businesses' opportunities and a more efficient way of transporting goods in emerging markets. The company is developing the electric OX with Potenza Technology, a company bought by FPT (Fiat Powertrain Technologies) in 2020.
OX also said it would present the electric truck at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicles from September 22 to September 23, 2021. That made us curious: how will the company start testing in April if the electric OX will only be presented in September? Will it start tests in Rwanda with the diesel version of the truck?
That could be the case. However, as Simon Davis – the company’s CEO – stated, it will be electric mobility that will allow OX's MaaS really affordable. The low maintenance costs of electric vehicles and electricity being much cheaper than diesel or gas will determine the success of the ecosystem the company plans to propose.
If it works as planned, people who do not buy vehicles may afford one by selling their goods for better prices. If the electric OX is the reference, the company may sell some truck units to these future customers of vehicles. These trucks may also work as storage for renewable energy in regions where electricity is a luxury.
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Considering that it would demand battery packs well below $100/kWh, another opportunity for OX would be to develop a cheaper version of the electric truck with a smaller battery pack and a compact and frugal engine to work as a range extender. That’s what Obrist proposed to do in Europe. If it could make a Tesla Model 3 cost around €20,000, it could probably allow an OX to be extremely affordable.
Whatever path OX has ahead of it, its success clearly would not benefit only its stakeholders. The 3 billion people in need of reliable and affordable mobility would also thank for it, especially if it can be done cleanly instead of raising the demand for crude oil and its products. If these people are not given an option, that is precisely what is going to happen.