A non-profit organization called the Global Vehicle Trust commissioned veteran Formula One engineer Gordon Murray to construct the truck in 2016. The organization envisioned a vehicle that could help distribute necessities in underdeveloped nations.
OX Delivers was established by the Global Vehicle Trust in 2020, and while having its headquarters in Warwickshire, England, the company advertises it as being run by Africans. It rents out delivery space on the trucks rather than selling them, largely to smallholder farmers and small-scale retailers.
In April 2021, it began operating a fleet of two vehicles in Western Rwanda; it now has 24 trucks, which it uses to transport everything from fruit to animals, lumber to school supplies.
Rwanda’s undulating slopes breed excellent endurance riders. Even more impressively, some of them are able to go across mountainous terrain while carrying 100 kg of fruit on their heads and shoulders. They might not all be competing in the Tour de France.
Farmers frequently use bicycles and motorcycles to transport their goods to markets in this area because larger vehicles struggle on the muddy roads. However, the British-Rwandan delivery business OX Delivers hopes to change that with its electric OX Trucks, which are built to navigate muddy roads and have a carrying capacity of up to two tons, or around 20 times that of a bike.
“Before, our clients would take any means of transport that would come around,” explains Rwanda managing director Francine Uwamahoro. “They were taking bikes from their farm … and they would be gone for a long time – around two days.”
The OX Truck
Large tires and a high ground clearance are features of the OX Truck. According to the manufacturer, parts are carefully chosen to shorten breakdown times, and several fundamental elements are interchangeable and simple to remove in the event that they sustain rock damage (which is common on dirt roads).
Through a simple “app” made for 2G feature phones, customers may reserve space on a truck. Since the app cannot currently process payments, drivers haggle prices and cultivate personal connections with their clients in person. “Our growth is in the hands of our drivers,” claims Uwamahoro.
Reaching Rural Africa
Of all low-income regions, Sub-Saharan Africa has less than a fourth of the average number of paved roads per kilometer. Lack of roads can result in greater shipping costs and extended transit times, which can hinder the growth of economies.
“Bananas cost 10 times in Kigali (Rwanda’s capital) what they cost in a village,” says OX Delivers managing director Simon Davis. “You can get good fruit and ship it to Kigali, but the transport will just eat all the cost.”
According to the business, it keeps costs low by controlling and streamlining every step of the supply chain. For instance, its components are shipped flat-packed from Britain to Rwanda, allowing materials for six vehicles to fit into a shipping container that would often only hold two complete trucks. Using an image-based, IKEA-like guide, OX claims that three “skilled (but not necessarily expert)” persons can assemble the truck in 12 hours.
According to Davis, running an electric engine costs 50% less per day than running a diesel one. The company has set up private charging terminals, where it can take the trucks up to six hours to fully recharge, to make up for Rwanda’s lack of charging infrastructure. The vehicles have a range of 170 kilometers.