Gen Z Clemson students design a new Toyota car, call it uBox

Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR)/Toyota uBox Concept

Clemson University and Toyota collaborate on next-gen vehicle

Like what you see? Heads up: When Gen Z is in charge, this is what we have to look forward to. Toyota had graduate students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research design a car for young entrepreneurs and they came up with the uBox.

The collaboration, called Deep Orange, puts students in charge of all aspects of building, marketing and engineering a new vehicle.

“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.”

According to Toyota, the uBox includes a “bold, youthful and distinctive exterior design that aligns with generation Z’s personality trait to stand out”… the same way a box stands out in a crowd of cool cars. Also it has a “versatile interior that can be rearranged for various activities, from working or operating a business, to hauling bulky cargo.” No real problem with that. The vents, dashboard and display bezels can be personalized, and it has an all-electric powertrain with enough juice to “power consumer electronics, power tools or other devices through various 110-volt sockets located throughout the interior and exterior.”

Toyota uBox i1

During the process, the students actually developed a new technique that allows composite carbon fiber rails to bond with aluminum to support a curved glass roof.

“The roof pultrusion was something unexpected and very interesting when they first started talking about the concept,” said Toyota executive program manager Craig Payne. “The fact that they were able to achieve an industry-first manufacturing technique as students speaks volumes for this program.”

The car is on display at Cobo Center in downtown Detroit now through April 14.

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