An Uber for Farmers: Electric Trucks Startup to Connect Rural Africa

Startup Aims to Electrify Farm Goods Transport in Developing World

An automotive start-up dubbed “the Uber for global farmers” is utilizing advanced cloud-based design technology to develop a breakthrough in low-emission transportation for rural communities in developing nations.

OX Delivers, founded in 2020 and based in the U.K, has set its sights on designing rugged yet cost-effective electric trucks that can withstand harsh environments to help small farmers reliably transport crops to market. Avoiding delays is critical, as perishable goods rotting on the road can spell economic disaster.

The company is currently pilot testing its vehicles in Rwanda, allowing local businesses to purchase truck space to move goods to customers. Feedback from drivers and users is being sent back to OX Delivers’ 13-member engineering team in Leamington Spa, who will use the data to refine the truck’s durability, eco-friendliness and ergonomics.

“There’s been extensive design and prototyping to get us here, with a prototype now running in Rwanda,” said Kristiana Hamilton, an OX Delivers engineer. “But we’re still very much in the development phase as we create a unique low-emission truck tailored for purpose.”

Ms. Hamilton explained that adopting PTC’s Onshape cloud-based design platform has been a “gamechanger,” providing intuitive real-time collaboration that has accelerated lead times and aligned with the company’s “sprint” strategy for rapid iteration. The clarity of information and basic simulation enabled by Onshape eliminates costly modifications, while integrating on-the-ground user feedback into modeling.

Work on a new rear-wheel drive chassis is currently underway, a necessary adaptation for Rwanda’s markets. Concurrent design “sprints” are focused on enhancing driver ergonomics and suspension to handle rough terrain.

Onshape’s collaboration capabilities are critical for OX Delivers, enabling custom features designed by other users to add functionality and create physical test models. “Working closely with our supply chain, including Potenza, Penso and Dana Incorporated, we need them to access our drawings and platform,” Ms. Hamilton said. “Onshape makes this easy with secure cloud-based sharing.”

She added that Onshape’s built-in product data management will help manage their growing bill of materials as the final truck takes shape. “For a start-up, the technology is affordable but gives us big organization security and functionality,” Ms. Hamilton said.

Jon Hirschtick, an executive vice president at Onshape’s parent company PTC, said, “OX Delivers is transforming goods transport in emerging countries, delivering better lives. It’s another fantastic U.K. innovation on a global scale, and we’re delighted they’re using Onshape to overcome natural design challenges in building sustainable transport for harsh environments.”

Onshape, PTC’s cloud-native computer-aided design tool with integrated product data management, is employed by companies small and large to accelerate and streamline product design through real-time collaboration. Its users include major brands like DHL, Garmin, Ocado Technology and Withings.

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