The uBox Concept us the sixth generation of the Deep Orange concept vehicle program at Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR).
The concept car was designed, engineered and hand-built by graduate students at CU-ICAR, and is the result of a two-year collaboration with Toyota Motor North America designers and engineers.
The brief tasked students to develop a vehicle targeting young entrepreneurs who wants a vehicle that can provide utility and recreation on the weekend but that can also offer office space or other career-centric or lifestyle uses during the week.
The exterior styling is characterized by a surface treatment that combines sharp edges and details with simple geometries with curved surfaces that lend the car a more organic look.
The goal of the design was to “align with generation Z’s personality trait to stand out, embodying a muscular stance that looks like it’s sprung forward in motion, even when standing still.”
The interior is focused on versatility and can be rearranged for various activities, from working or operating a business, to hauling bulky cargo. A low floor allows for reconfigurable, removable seats on sliding tracks that can be nested.
Vents, dashboard display bezels and door trim that can be personalized and made with 3-D printing technology, and an online community for owners where they can share design ideas.
A compact, dual-purpose, all-electric powertrain providing a fun driving experience and emission-free stationary energy to power consumer electronics, power tools or other devices through various 110-volt sockets located throughout the interior and exterior.
One distinctive technical highlight of the uBox is the pultrusion technique developed by the students that allows composite carbon fiber rails bonded with aluminum to support a curved glass roof.
On this feature, Executive Program Manager Craig Payne, commented “The roof pultrusion was something unexpected and very interesting when they first started talking about the concept. The fact that they were able to achieve an industry-first manufacturing technique as students speaks volumes for this program.”
The Deep Orange program
The goal of the Deep Orange program is to involve students into every aspect of automotive development €“ from market research and design studies to engineering design and manufacturing.
“The collaboration with Toyota was extremely fruitful,” said Paul Venhovens, endowed chair for automotive systems integration at CU-ICAR. “The Toyota management team constantly challenged the students with justifying their design and engineering decisions based on brand essence, real-world customers and what the students believed the future would embrace. This experience can simply not be gained from a text book.€
“Deep Orange gives students’ hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build,” says Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program. “It’s like automotive boot camp for the real world, and it wouldn’t happen without industry partners like Toyota.”
Unveiled by Toyota and the Clemson Deep Orange Team on April 12th at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition at the Cobo Center in Detroit, the uBox will remain on display in the Cobo atrium through Thursday, April 14.