Toyota and Clemson University Built a Concept Car for the Next Generation

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In recent years, the product design and marketing worlds have wrapped their collective minds around a “millennial” conundrum—that is, what do Millennials (those born between 1980 and the mid-‘90s) value and want? 

The generation has proven to be a buying powerhouse, yet an elusive one. However, there’s already a new generation emerging—Generation-Z, or “Gen-Z”—and companies are already looking to cater to this new wave of shoppers, automakers included.

Toyota’s latest offering to Gen-Z is this—the uBox concept—the result of a two year collaboration between Toyota Motor’s North American engineers and graduate students at Clemson University. Of course, you won’t be seeing one at a Toyota dealership any time soon, but enterprising Gen-Zers might wish they did.

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Conceived at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR), the uBox was built for the young entrepreneur that wants to do it all. As such, it features an interior that can be optimized for carrying people, cargo, as well as provide office working space, all while aiming to appease Gen-Z’s desire to stand out from the crowd.

The students describe its exterior styling as “bold” and “muscular” in motion, and from the front it certainly shares a familiar Toyota design language, with hints of the modern 4Runner coming to surface.

Like many of today’s new concept cars, the Toyota uBox also opts for a green all-electric powertrain. The added benefit of that, apart from the independence from fossil fuels, is that it allows the crossover to function as a plug-in charge point of sorts, providing energy for power tools and other electronic devices that budding entrepreneurs may find handy.

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While that may cast Gen-Zers as nonconformist workaholics, the uBox also caters to their fun side too. The interior dashboard elements can all be reconfigured and customized through modern 3D printing, the roof reveals an expansive pane of glass, and as the above photos suggest, there’s plenty of room for e-bikes and whatever outdoor adventure gear one fancies.

Need to see it in person? Clemson University and Toyota’s uBox concept is on display at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition at the Cobo Center in Detroit, from April 12th to April 14th.

Photo Credit: Clemson University, Toyota

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