Uber-style start-up developing affordable zero-emission truck for emerging markets
A new affordable zero-emission truck could form the basis of an Uber-style ‘transport ecosystem’ in emerging markets, its developers have said. Warwickshire and Rwanda-based Ox has secured three grants worth GBP1.2m in the last four months for its project, which will combine the electric truck with a ‘mobility-as-a-service’ model to enable low-cost sustainable transport, even in rural areas. Originally designed by Formula One innovator Professor Gordon Murray CBE, the Ox truck is purpose-designed for emerging markets.
As well as being zero-emission, the truck is forecast to be 30% cheaper to run per tonne over 20 years than currently available diesel trucks. There are three billion people who lack access to basic transport provision, an Ox announcement said, creating barriers to markets, healthcare and education. The start-up hopes its system will lead to ‘significant opportunities to empower businesses and individuals’, such as providing farmers in rural areas with an economical way to transport and sell crops for higher prices in cities.
The ‘ecosystem’ includes development of the truck, the creation of a digital platform for transactions to take place and the recruitment of local drivers. A pilot project will start in April in Rwanda, where the team will work with local communities to gain an understanding of customer needs and demand. The recent grants, awarded by Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre, will see Ox work on separate projects with Potenza Technology and Penso.
The latest Innovate UK grant provided funding to develop the truck cabin to meet UK legislation, ensuring it is able to operate in all global markets – as well as creating the opportunity to offer the off-road capable truck in the UK. Ox will partner with Penso’s specialist engineering team, which will lead the design and market certification of the truck. The latest project follows the award of two grants in October 2020, which involve Ox working alongside battery design company Potenza Technology to develop the truck.
The first project, supported by Innovate UK funding, will enable a feasibility study into an electric powertrain for the truck, optimising its zero-emission technology. The start-up has also secured funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre as part of its Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator programme, to build a prototype of the truck that will be able to operate in developing markets. The vehicle will be showcased at Cenex’s Low Carbon Vehicle event in September.
Simon Davis, Ox’s general manager, said: “Innovate UK and the Advanced Propulsion Centre use a competitive and tough assessment process, so it is a fantastic vote of confidence in Ox that we have been awarded a third grant. This project will enable us to accelerate the development of our unique zero-emission Ox truck and open up new markets.”
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