Story & Photos: Bhargav TS

Focusing on bridging the mobility divide in India, Shell has unveiled the world’s first ‘flat-pack’ truck –The OX- an all-terrain vehicle for reaching remote areas. The OX 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 in developing regions. It can be assembled from a flat-pack kit in less than 12 hours and transported in greater numbers to where it is needed more quickly.

Unveiled at the first edition of Shell’s `Make the Future’ festival in India, the OX truck is a global partnership among Shell, Gordon Murray Design (GMD), and the Global Vehicle Trust (GVT). It is an effort by Shell to empower communities living in the interiors of the country, by providing an effective transportation solution.

Mike Brown, Advanced Product and Business Strategy Director, GMD, said, “We have taken the engine, transmission, driveline, brakes and the off-the shelf steering box from the Ford Ranger and the electrical architecture is modified for the OX truck. We have the unique expansion chassis body structure but we have integrated even the fuel tank, air intake everything that goes along with that. They are packaged behind the driver seat to have a flexible architecture and to maximise the use of existing OEM components. It is the only way to get an affordable solution.”

The flat-pack design makes OX the first-of-its-kind vehicle that is simple to maintain, having accessible components and fewer parts. It is ecologically sound, easy to manufacture, build and transport.

Nitin Prasad, Chairman, Shell Companies in India said, “Limited mobility restricts access to basic amenities in remote areas. Shell is 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 very promising technology having immense potential to broaden access to transport possibilities. We are pleased to partner with GMD and GVT and hope this versatile vehicle will be instrumental in transforming lives and overcoming daily accessibility challenges.”

The lightweight OX originated from the vision of one man – Sir Torquil Norman, the founder of GVT, and is based on GMD’s flexible iStream technology. It is specifically designed to carry a payload of 1900 kg or eight 44-gallon drums.

“The body structure of OX is the key. It has our patented iStream Fibrelight composites, which reduce the weight of the body and allows to carry more load. Lightweighting means, effectively lower emissions and also helps with performance in terms of off-road capability. It also offers great ride due to the independent suspension. The vehicle is designed to be easy to assemble; basically the vehicle is packed into its own chassis, so it is completely flat. The focus has always been on the low investment and doing it affordably. Most of the truck components are commanaised, therefore it has low-cost of repair and low-cost of manufacture,” he said.

The design for the OX is nothing short of revolutionary, and the flat-pack format fundamentally changes the way a vehicle can be bought and transported, providing specific advantages to lead times and overall unit cost.

The Make the Future, featured also the `Shell Eco-marathon’, a competition event for students who are passionate about developing innovative mobility solutions. It challenges engineering, design, science and technology students to design, build and drive the world’s most energy efficient vehicle.

Held for the first time in India, Make the Future event is a unique global platform for conversations, collaboration and innovations focused on world’s energy challenges. In India, the event focused on “Powering progress in mobility, together.” The four-day event was held at the Madras Motor Race Track, Chennai, during December 6-9, 2018.

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