Multidrive looks to the Future as it aims to win military contracts

A factory in North Yorkshire is gearing up to supply the US and British military with its heavy duty trucks.

Multidrive, in Thirsk, won a 250,000 contract to take its Future Cargo Vehicle (FCV) to a US Government-run research centre in Detroit.

The demonstration is part of a six-month process carried out by the US National Automotive Centre (NAC), in which available technology is assessed for use by the military.

The unique features of the FCV truck, designed by Multidrive, include the location of the engine on the side of the vehicle, independent suspension, a cab which is fully mine and bullet-proofed and a box chassis, instead of a ladder chassis.

If the Yorkshire-made truck is given the green light, the 65-strong company – founded in 1996 by former owner of Bedford Trucks, David Brown – will be looking at a contract worth millions.

Yesterday, sales and marketing director Chris Chambers said the firm would either manufacture parts or sell the technology.

"The feedback from the NAC is that the US military is thrilled by it, it's like an answer to a maiden's prayer. We hope it will lead to our direct involvement in the provision of trucks to the US army," he said.

Multidrive, which expects its turnover to leap to 26m this year, from 9m, is also waiting to hear from the UK Ministry of Defence – which is currently assessing the vehicles made by one other company, from the US. "If we win this contract, we'll expand on to land next door and double our workforce," said Mr Chambers.