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Gordon Murray-designed ‘OX’ flat-pack truck (topgear.com)
308 points by kaishiro on Sept 7, 2016 | hide | past | favorite | 109 comments

”Three trained (but not necessarily expert) people can put an OX together in approximately 12 hours.” (from http://oxgvt.com/the-ox-all-terrain-vehicle/)

I'd love for them to put up a full 12 hour video on YouTube showing the whole process, with no fancy editing or disturbing music. Just three engineers working away in a big, empty hall, turning a package into an OX. I imagine it would be mesmerizing to watch.

http://bbc.in/2cDfN82 Video of the 12 hour assembly here.

I recommend you watch the ongoing Project Binky series: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLGSOZAHg1yQEatqhWza_a...

Project Binky is pretty much the opposite of what the GP asks for though, they're clearly experts and it's taken much more than 12 hours :) But Binky is hands down my favorite thing on YouTube, though Clickspring would have to come in second: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCworsKCR-Sx6R6-BnIjS2MA/vid...

Not real time, but entertaining nonetheless.


Never mind watching it, that sounds like a treat of a weekend activity to me.

When Gordon Murray designs a truck, it's worth paying attention. The McLaren F1 road car pioneered a lot of new and creative technology that is still trickling down in consumer cars today, while remaining an excellently built car loved by enthusiasts and that has appreciated in value several folds. It almost defined the brand of form following function in super cars. McLaren are also known for building a lot of their own parts and tools down to the nuts versus using suppliers. Given Gordon Murray's attention to details, there is probably a lot more interesting things about this truck than the article can mention.

I haven't heard much about his iStream technology recently. I wonder if anyone but Yamaha has taken it up.


Murray "... even claimed that the process is so simplified that Walmart or Apple could use it to start manufacturing cars."

Gordon Murray comments in the article that iStream was an inspiration and lessons learned from that project were applied to the OX.

And the concept is taken much further too, the idea of iStream was to replace hard-to-manufacture precision moulded and welded panels used in consturcting the chassis with much simpler tubular construction (while using modern designs to get the rigidity and durability). The entire OX chassis is built with flat panels (from "engineered plywood", I think that's a wood + aluminium composite) and straight tubes, making it really simple to manufacture and assemble but rigid and strong.

This is also where the race car designer background comes into play. Back when he got started, it was all tubular frame construction for the lower end and riveted aluminium monocoques for the top end. Of course his best known works are from the early carbon fiber composite era (mid 1980s) but his background in chassis rigidity must really help.

the BMW i3 is probably the closest production vehicle. It's pretty revolutionary:


This is extraordinary. Thanks for sharing. It's amazing that BMW aren't shouting about this from the rooftops. They mention something about social media on the page for the i3 (at least on my local site) but nothing about the manufacturing process used for the body and the other innovations.

Is there a text version or an article about this?

I believe it's used in the new TVR project.

Gordon Murray is also responsible for the BT-46B fancar: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brabham_BT46#Brabham_BT46B.C2....

I was curious what it looked like flat-packed: http://oxgvt.com/wp-content/uploads/Flat-Packing2.jpg

Thank you! I can't believe that wasn't in the article.

This reminds me of the soldiers who can disassemble and reassemble an entire Jeep in 3 minutes:


Design looks similar to Australian OKA 4WD ATV[1]. Hindustan Motors in India used to manufacture a licensed version called RTV, back in the 90s.

[1] http://web.archive.org/web/20121021203320/http://www.oka.com...

[2] http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:www.the...

Similar problems, similar solutions.

I want one! Where do I order?

Anybody know about the emissions and if you can drive it in the US (non-California)?

I also wonder if the parts are easy and standard enough to make in more widely distributed factories. Seems the revolution waiting to happen is when a small country can make at least some of the parts in a small factory and trade with other similar partners to commodify the ecosystem, like PCs in the 1990s etc.

http://oxgvt.com/the-ox-all-terrain-vehicle/ - is the official site and shows an image of the flatpack.

I'm going to take a guess that this wouldn't meet US safety standards, it's design intent really seems for serving the developing world.

The Ford Transit is available with an engine that meets California standards, so it could be made emissions-compliant.

Crashworthyness, though... There's not much crush depth in that thing. The driver is up front. Did they install ABS?

As a " kit car" I suspect you can legally register and drive it. They're not held to the same standards as a production vehicle.

Exactly one, but yes you can register it.

Looks like a great idea. Unfortunately, in most of the developed world, it does not look like it would not pass the occupant safety regulations.

Can it be used as a utility vehicle on a farm? I assume so, otherwise tractors, etc. would not be legal, right?

"Murray says the inspiration for the dynamics came from the Renault 4, once a much-loved off-roader in Africa and Southern Europe."

for those who are interested the renault 4 also called 4l is used for an international race run by student every year since 20 years.


Wasn't an ultra cheap Chinese-made truck banned in EU, because in a head-on crash at 30mph the whole cabin would just basically fold into itself, killing everyone inside - does this extremely simple design not suffer from the same problem?

How exactly is £10-15000 cheap in developing countries?

The real cost hits over years of use. These things will effectively last forever, as each part can be replaced as needed. There is plenty of money in developing countries, just poorly distributed. You can easily see how the Ox would pay for itself in reducing transport costs to/from remoter communities.

Also, the price will fall, these trucks will be sold second, third, tenth hand... Same as with "expensive" mobile phones in years past.

> These things will effectively last forever, as each part can be replaced as needed.

You will find that Toyota comfortably holds this niche in most developing countries. Toyotas are reliable, and there's a glut of cheap Toyota spares due to network effects. The only advantage the Ox has over a Toyota Hilux is that it can carry about 800kg more (about double). On all other points, the Hilux is ahead or on par.

There's a caveat... it's the old, pre-2000s Toyota Hilux cars that are durable and easy to repair. A newer Hilux isn't as simple and reliable as the old ones, and the old ones are in short supply.

Although the new Hilux cars seem to be quite popular in Africa and Middle East too. Perhaps it's the brand, or perhaps there are some similarities (or even interchangeable parts) that make it desirable.

Potential buyers in developing countries don't just take broken cars to the fancy service stations to get them fixed by the licensed mechanics. They do most of repairs themselves with whatever scrap parts they can find for few bucks. I really, really doubt Ox could provide cheaper spare parts. Also, for big portion of people around the world that have no stable income and access to credit, it's much easier to pay 2k$ or so for an old truck and and get additional money for repairs when it's needed (or even buy another 2k$ truck) than paying 10-12k$ even if that means zero expenses (which is unrealistic) over time.

The thing is made with a steel tube frame and plywood panels. And if you look at the pictures there's a lack of compound curves. So it seems to me that a lot of repairs can be done in a very basic workshop, without having to order spare parts from abroad.

Yeah, that was my first mind too. Nobody, bar few magnates, in developing world buys new cars. You can get a used truck for few thousand or less bucks there. Nice idea, but I really doubt we will see many of these trucks used for its intended purpose.

I live in Ethiopia. The import tax for a car is about 150%. So a second hand Toyota Corolla ends up costing about $35K.

I don't know if you can answer this, but does it apply to "kit" cars too? This car is supposed to be shipped unassembled and you can probably source a used (or even new) Ford Transit engine.

The article does mention taxes and customs as one motivator for this design.

And how much do you think a used Ox will go for? Not to mention the increased storage and versatility.

Not the OP, and I do not live in Africa, but in Eastern Europe, where paying 10-15,000 euros/pounds/$ for a car is also seen as expensive by a lot of people (I couldn't afford it, that's for sure).

Looking on the roads around me the VW T3 is really popular around here for people who want to get things done, you can find decent enough examples at around 800-1000 euros (I know because I also looked at purchasing one). The repairs are easy to do, lots of spare parts available, and if you think diesel is too expensive you can always install a LPG system on it and now it becomes even cheaper to run it. Unfortunately the next T4 model is a little too big.

For a similar example that comes from Eastern Europe also look at UAZ-452 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UAZ-452), that's a very durable and reasonably cheap car that can handle almost anything.

I love how the Wikipedia page for the UAZ-452 highlights from the 2011 upgrade the exciting new feature "seat belts". I was going to ask about airbags, silly me.

You would be surprised. My friend is currently living in Moshi, Tanzania. It's true that almost all cars being bought are second hand, but they are a lot more expensive than you would imagine. She recently bought a very used Rav4 for 10k Euro. Not saying that someone will pay the 15000 Euro for this truck, but it isn't dirt cheap to purchase a car in Africa(I thought the same thing before).

It can carry 15 passengers or 1800 Kg cargo and is extremely durable and cheap to run and repair, therefore is incredibly cheap on a cost per unit basis. Also low initial investment for entrepreneurs anyway who want to offer mini-bus or transport services

> is extremely durable

What makes you confident to say this about a vehicle that was just released in it's first iteration and has yet to stand the test of time?

It uses parts from vehicles that were on the market for decades now, so their reliability is well known. The Ford Transit engine is not going to get less reliable because they put it in a different frame.

TFA also mentions it did better than average in a durability test.

It would seem much more expensive than a motorbike which will already have an established ecosystem.

Not much information on the diesel engine used.

Is it a Common Rail, computer-controlled diesel?

I'm in West Africa now, and the diesel quality down here means you really want an all-mechanical injection pump, not a CRD.

Cool idea, but he's got to remember that virtually no body down here (save the UN and big NGOs) buys new vehicles. They're all clapped-out things shipped in from Europe - even the land cruisers have 400,000+ kms on them when they get here.

Yes, but I think the Ox changes the economics, if it really works as presented. I've family in Congo DRC. We could buy four of these and some spare parts for 50,000 USD and start a bush taxi business for one high value route. The income will pay for repairs and salaries plus some profit to accumulate. I'd expect to expand the fleet slowly yet surely. The main risk as always, theft rather than lack of demand or revenue.

More over, the vehicles would not fall in value, much or at all. Assuming, again, the claims of the makers are true.

There is money to spend in such countries, via the diasporas, agencies, local wealthier people. The difficulty is always to avoid being ripped off.

And the purchase price is going to fall a lot when the Chinese clones hit the market, which they will.

In anything that is going to be used hard out in the boonies, no matter where you are, you really want the simplest, toughest, all-mechanical diesel engine you can get your hands on. You should be able to tear it down and put it back together with a modest set of mechanic's hand tools.

Source: too many hours in my childhood out in the mud or snow helping my father work on the Detroit diesels in his skidders.

> Not much information on the diesel engine used.

It does mention that it's an off-the-shelf Ford Transit diesel engine and transmission. I'm sure you can find the answers to the rest of your questions based on that.

Likely some variant of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_Duratorq_engine

There are quite a few.

These are all turbodiesels, which wouldn't be my first choice for use in a place where you can't get spare parts.

Except for the computer running everything, the high-pressure common rail that will hate bad diesel, and the touchy injectors that cost an arm and leg to replace, and also hate bad diesel.

Those engines are great in the first world, not so much in the 3rd.

Note the use of "wouldn't" in my comment.

The specs on http://oxgvt.com/specs-ox-all-terrain-vehicle/ line up quite well with the ZSD-422.

I can't believe I'm the only commenter who seems to want one of these. I really want one of these. I'd like my kids to be able to mess around with car repair as they get older, and this just seems perfect for teenagers -- camping, glamping, drive 11 closest friends around -- seriously, I love this.

This is just a very modern car/truck. I love it.

>this serial philanthropist spent around £3 million to get the vehicle designed, prototyped and much of the way to production. Another similar amount, its creators reckon, would finish developing the OX, and build the factory.

Sounds like a Kickstarter is in order.

Get an old Toyota pickup. They go anywhere, reliable, cheap, easy to work on, parts are cheap.

Old Toyota Hilux pickups are hard to come by (in any kind of decent shape) and if you happen to find one, be prepared to pay a lot of money.

Even here in northern Europe, a mid-1980s Hilux might sell for 5000 eur in a barely runnable condition. There are two reasons, first: these things are easy to repair but spare parts are an issue. Second: it can be in quite shitty condition and can still be sold to Africa for a decent amount of money.

Then there's the indestructible reputation that surely brings up the price.

I've had a Hilux for Africa trips, they're great. But, a modern one has a lot of tech. And, old ones are pretty nasty typically.

This is more in the "Open Source Ecology" style of design, which I love.

Can some Englishperson kindly explain to me what these phrases mean?

- "sand ladders"

- "a blockable front brake"

- "a six-speed power take off"

Also, why is there no video? Doesn't Top Gear have anyone on staff who can edit video? Or am I just missing the link?

Not English, but easy enough. - A sand ladder is a weight distribution mechanism that may be used to improve traction on loose materials. You can achieve the same effect by putting a board under a tire when stuck in sand or snow. - A blockable front brake would allow you to lock one wheel, allowing spinning the other freely. If that other one were jacked up out of earth contact, the adapter provided would allow you to easily connect the wheel to a standard PTO, with the advantage of a transmission. This would allow you to pump water, generate electricity at a larger scale, run stationary farm implements, etc.

Thank you! I hadn't heard of a PTO before.

Boy, this would be pretty fun to hack. I can imagine the RV possibilities.

very cool ..I would buy one.

I'm assuming there's more to the name...unlike normal trucks that can only go up to 10, this one can go all the way to 0xB ;)

Could this be easily disassembled and stored in a way that it doesn't degrade while in storage? If so, could the same design techniques be applied to building MRAPs that don't end up as military surplus?

Looks like OX is doing the same to trucks what Raspberry Pi did to computers.

Designed to be hand-manufactured - no robots. Interesting choice. Is it because labor is cheaper where this might be made? But its made in England...

The tooling and engineering required for a modern car (even just a refresh of an existing model) costs hundreds of millions of dollars. Ignoring that cost automation might be cheaper, but if you expect to produce thousands, not millions, you're almost certainly better off using old-school machine-shop equipment and processes.

Going that route also lets you do manufacturing closer to the intended market, vs. requiring supply chain, power, and other infrastructure that could be in short supply in the developing world.

Parts of the automotive industry is moving back to hand-manufacturing for a lot of different reasons. So far, out of the big manufactures, it's only been used for premium cars (I think Audi and BMW are two examples, and not every model from them).

There's a lot of reasons that might be in favor of good old manual labor instead of high tech robotics.

There is mass unemployment all over Europe at the moment. including UK. Untrained labor might not be as expensive as you think, especially compared to the guys who can design, install and operate automotive manufacturing robots.

It does make sense to use robots and CNC for machining and parts manufacture (where you'd need skilled labor) but the assembly line work is pretty straightforward. Especially in vehicles such as this.

Another aspect is volume. This doesn't seem to be a high volume vehicle, at least initially. It would cost a lot to set up an automated factory for this kind of product.

Finally, this car was designed to be shipped unassembled and be put together by the customer or a distributor, which might not be in the UK.

It looks like you'd need a cat C license to drive this (in UK), alas.

Still, the DIY-er in me loves the idea, hope they do well and get even cheaper.

So about the same price as a brand new Hilux? Which are already produced 100's of thousands per year and are already all over the place in the developing world.

I've got much respect for Gordon Murray but did I miss something here? At something like 1/3 the price he might be on to something, but like this, its just another rattle-trap diesel truck only suitable for 3rd world use. They've got lots of those already. Plus at a cost that high to start with, I'm not sure "you can save a few bucks in shipping if you put it together like an IKEA couch" is actually a feature.

> 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 Toyota Hilux takes barely 1,000kg.

> And because the OX is much cheaper, a buyer could have a bigger fleet. “There is just no competition, anywhere,” says Murray. “OXen would have a five times ratio of carrying capacity to cost versus Hiluxes.”

>“There is just no competition, anywhere,” says Murray.

How about a jeepney then? Perhaps the Ox has an advantage for extremely rugged terrain, but it's hardly cheap. In the Philippines for example, a brand new 20 passenger jeepney costs GBP 8k:

"For the record, a fully-appointed 20-passenger jeepney--with an "Isuzu 4BC1 engine, 75-percent stainless-steel body, stereo system, stickers, halogen lights, side aluminum jalousies"--is priced at P510,000 if you buy it in cash" [1]

That was in 2011, but prices remain similar.

[1] http://www.topgear.com.ph/features/feature-articles/how-much...

The Ox's kit will be manufactured in the UK, where the average wage is 11x higher than in the Philippines.

That aside, Jeepneys are horrendous vehicles for anything other than their primary use: going from stop to stop on flat ground, while carrying human cargo with a high turnover rate.

The Jeepney weighs twice as much as the Ox and struggles with any incline (up or down–given the weight and their generally shoddy brakes, stopping quickly is out of the question), handles poorly with suspension that would have been unsophisticated a half a century ago, and becomes a hazard at any speed above gridlock.

The cargo capacity of the two appears to be significantly different, as the Jeepney's optimized around having two benches for people–the rear opening is positively small for cargo, removing the bench is a hassle (if it isn't welded in place to begin with), and the roof is fixed, giving no allowance for oddly-shaped cargo.

The two vehicles are hardly comparable.

>That aside, Jeepneys are horrendous vehicles for anything other than their primary use: going from stop to stop on flat ground, while carrying human cargo with a high turnover rate.

Agreed, but that's sort of the point. It's a cheap local solution perfectly suited to local requirements. Similar solutions exist for transporting cargo both on land and sea. It's also produced domestically, which benefits both the price, maintainability, and local economy.

The reason for my comparison was to challenge the points in the article that seem to suggest that the developing world is crying out for a solution like this at this price point. It certainly looks like a decent product, but I can't see it being a game changer in any way.

But not if you need 4WD.

Fully loaded it will be useless on muddy/sandy/steep tracks if it only has front wheel drive.

> The OX has been designed with rough, rutted, washboarded gravel roads in mind. It has only front-drive, for simplicity, ground clearance and lightness. But supple suspension and helpful weight distribution give it immense traction, as Top Gear found on a test track normally reserved for 4x4s.

> “I had no idea how good the OX would be, until I’d driven it.” says Murray. “The ride is great. I had been quietly terrified something with 2WD wouldn’t work that well.”


> Murray says the inspiration for the dynamics came from the Renault 4, once a much-loved off-roader in Africa and Southern Europe.

The Renault 4 was 2wd right?

(Am I the only one reading the article?!? ;) )

>So about the same price as a brand new Hilux? Which are already produced 100's of thousands per year and are already all over the place in the developing world. I've got much respect for Gordon Murray but did I miss something here?

You need two Hilux to carry as much payload as one Ox.

The first thing that came to mind was the WV Beetle.

If developed world works anything like 90s Poland - people would prefer used cars with more features/better comfort to a new car with less features/worse comfort.

For carrying capacity it's nowhere near a tractor + a trailer combo. And also tractor can drive anywhere, even places that 4WD won't, not mentioning weird 2WD.

It seems to be a cool project not solving any particular problem.

Part of the immature me wishes we don't invent new diesel trucks for developing countries, especially not with the goal of making it accessible to massive new markets. Doing so will extremely accelerate the global warming and local cancerigen pollution, both of which are there for the duration of the vehicle line (40 years?). I wish we'd start issuing electric models and portable ...nuclear plants? Solar systems? With wifi? This is childish, but the irresponsible pollution aspect of new diesel vehicles is worth pointing out.

  There was a man in the jungle
  Trying to make ends meet
  Found himself one day with an axe in his hand
  When a voice said "Buddy can you spare that tree
  We gotta save the world - starting with your land"
  It was a rock 'n' roll millionaire from the USA
  Doing 3 to the gallon in a big white car
  And he sang and he sang 'til he polluted the air
  And he blew a lot of smoke from a Cuban cigar
(From Joe Jackson, Obvious Song)

Precisely this. I will give examples of US hotels since thats really the only first world country I have visited. Everywhere there's shades and basically with 4/5 lights I get no where near the light that a single no shade light gives in my own room. There are lots of things done in third world that are done in a more polluting matter for cost concern. But I would hazard a guess that if you take a ratio pollution / 'improvement of quality of living' first world countries would be so far ahead of 3rd world countries that there would be no competition. When I said countries I do mean most in that category there are bound to be exceptions.

Diesel engines are by far the easiest to adapt for biofuels – even regular car diesels can run on vegetable oil (with some preparations).

So as long as we don't know what to replace internal combustion engines with, they're the safest bet, since they don't need fossil fuels.

Global warming is worsened with Biofuels (by 7%)[0] and local cancerigen pollution is only reduced (by 6.6%), not eliminated.

[0] https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/20/corn-bio...

You realize that your quoted article – referring to one of the many possible kinds of biofuel – actually refutes you…?

The thing is, that supplying a diesel truck to a rural community might dramatically improve living standards in the community. The damage done by burning diesel is small compared to the improvement of livelihood of dozens of people.

I would say, if you are worried about trucks polluting the earth, we should stop ordering shit online and expecting that every supermarket everywhere has all the freshest produce from every corner of the world. I'm willing to bet that the ecological cost of my local supermarket having fresh cherries from Chile or watermelon from Argentina(I'm in UK) is an order of magnitude greater than all diesel trucks used by 3rd world African villages combined.

Yes, we should not forget that people adopted fossil fuels because it meant a great improvement in the quality of their lives. After decades of experience, we know that this has a cost (pollution is bad for health) and discussion is welcomed, but focusing on the cost without acknowledging the benefits is not a good start.

Fresh fruit or flowers from remote parts of the world are often flown to the UK via backloads, i.e. planes that would otherwise be empty. So the ecological cost is not as great as you may think.

I know that plane manufacturers try to make their planes as light as possible, because every kg translates to actual fuel needed to fly - so even if a plane would fly empty otherwise, filling it up with fruit has a cost. Not to mention this fruit has to then be taken to shops on a fleet of trucks etc etc.

Don't get me wrong, I love that I can buy fresh produce any time of the year - but I just wanted to point out that denying the developing world basic transport technology to fight pollution, while we burn through monumental amounts of oil just to get stuff that improves our lives marginally, is not really fair.

Seems like Gordon Murray agrees with you.

On the [Ox website](http://oxgvt.com/) it mentions that the powertrain can be swapped out in future versions for electric or hydrogen powered altenatives.

The assertion and interpretation of "immaturity" on issues like this holds us all back. Perpetuating a known problem hardly seems "mature" or even "sane".

I appreciate that doing things differently demands extraordinary cultural and economic shifts, new business models, faith... I don't see any of that as immature.

(Perhaps I'm immature :) )

Yeah, pollution sucks.

But pushing a wheelbarrow sucks, too.

We learned to harness ox and horses for this reason. These things don't pollute as much as a truck, and at the end of their lives we can eat them or they can become food for our ecosystem peers rather than leave them in toxic dumps.

I'll rephrase my point to highlight what I think most relevant: if we constantly make concessions towards cost efficiency (because it's "pragmatic" and "mature") we will run out of time to deal with the major pollution problem before it kills us and most of our peers.

> These things don't pollute as much as a truck

I don't think it's as clear cut as that. Farming and keeping animals consumes a lot of natural resources. Keep in mind that you'd need a lot of time and a lot of oxen or horses to haul two tons of material.

> I wish we'd start issuing electric models

Oil is a form _and_ a source of energy. Electricity is a just a form of energy. Which alternative source do you propose?

As written above:

> ...nuclear plants? Solar systems?

More seriously, it's very important to consider that centralization of electricity production, even from coal or oil, allows a lot more pollution control than a hundred million vehicles each carrying a mini-combustion engine on the roads. Cars get lighter, and the factory can get efficient re-burners, soot filters, emit pollution outside cities, and benefit from future tech like CO2 burial. Heck, the country can even decide to shut down coal plants, go nuclear, hydroelectric or 100% renewable. Which is impossible if it's a matter of replacing 50 million cars.

So, yes, an electric car in a country that produces 100% of its energy from coal is still much more ecologic than a combustion engine. The keyword is: centralization of energy production.

Elon Musk is no fool. He beat 9 competitors with a total of $461bn market cap, because he got that before we did.

> He beat 9 competitors with a total of $461bn market cap

At what? Internet points?

Tesla has still a negligible total market share, because even first-world countries don't yet have the necessary infrastructure for an all-electric car fleet.

How's that supposed to work in third-world countries, where you can count yourself lucky to have dirt roads? For a utility truck, where weight efficiency matters?

And what about longevity? Reliability? Reparability? Tesla's batteries aren't even designed to survive five years, and if they're punctured, impossible to repair. Gas tanks can be fixed with duct tape and swearing, and diesel engines in minimally equipped workshops with spare parts that are lightweight enough you can ship them on a bicycle.

To agree- there's many places even in India where if you attempted to run a handful of charging bays you'd cause a brownout or blow a transformer. Countries with worse infrastructure than that aren't going to cope very well. Electricity-delivered-to-an-endpoint isn't anywhere close to an unlimited resource.

Centralization is no panacea. Photovoltaic can deliver decentralized clean power. Utility-scale power plants are slightly more efficient than portable engines, but it's less than a factor of 2; whether a coal plant produces more or less pollution than a gasoline or diesel engine depends on ① how well-maintained and well-equipped each is, ② how clean the fuel for each is, and ③ whether you're counting CO₂ as pollution, in which case the coal plant will always lose.

Here in Buenos Aires, diesel is terribly polluting. In California, diesel is super clean. The difference is mostly that in California you have to fix your car if it starts emitting smoke, and the diesel fuel is centrifuged to remove sulfur. Diesel unavoidably emits a lot of soot until the engine warms up, but lots of diesel vehicles are equipped with soot filters which periodically burn the soot off.

I don't know that it's accurate to say that centralization allows pollution control. It can just as easily prevent pollution control — even though there are less sources of pollution, they're each controlled by a more politically powerful entity. In many countries, this means energy companies can get away with murder. Literally.

> Cars get lighter

How do you figure that?

It's pretty hard to beat a modern ICE + gasoline for power-to-weight and energy density.

e.g. http://www.autoblog.com/2014/01/28/nissan-three-cylinder-rac...

And a 1,200lb 85kWh Tesla battery has about the same energy as 22lb of gas.

> an electric car ... is still much more ecologic than a combustion engine.

I agree on this point, but don't forget the other critical points for energy: storage-ability and transportability.

If you think about a centralized transport network (ex: train), then a dam and some wire will do the job. But, if you consider small, independent vehicles (ex: cars), unfortunately for humanity, up to now oil is unbeatable.

I think that we don't need any more remainder that pollution sucks. We need more research to find alternatives that pollute less while providing the same comfort.

The Bolt appears to be staged to reach market prior to the Model 3, probably at a lower price point. The speculative ranges for each are similar enough.

It doesn't have the Tesla mystique though, that's for sure.

The overall design is a riff of the Steyr Pinzgauer: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinzgauer_High-Mobility_All-...

The British Army is using them, so Murray has likely been inspired by it.

It was designed for Mountains in Austria, is pretty much unbeatable in tough terrain - just put on chains and gogogo.

Original had petrol engines, not diesel to avoid freezing up in winter conditions.

As a driver in the Austrian Army we basically learned the whole thing front to back, assemble and disassemble like a rifle.

Such a fun ride.



True, but he has a point. All the work that adds value is done in the UK and it's designed to evade local taxes. The article even mentions that safety relevant steps are performed in the UK, as if this wasn't possible in developing countries. How is a country supposed to develop a well functioning industry if they are only trusted with an IKEA-like manual?

If the UN buys this vehicle it's basically just rich states subsidizing a company in a rich state. The local economy loses out. This is how most aid projects worked in the last decades and it obviously hasn't really helped.

The intentions are good, but this won't help developing countries more than just importing old used European/American cars.

You don't have to do everything in a local economy to unlock value. The majority of vehicles in developing countries aren't manufactured locally, but their presence makes other lines of business possible. It might even provide impetus for civil society to improve infrastructure that...(hopefully!) pushes that country up the value chain.

Even if the trucks themselves don't end up being helpful in the long run, I suspect some of the manufacturing techniques used will reappear in future developments.

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