Toyota has teamed up with students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) to create a unique concept.
Dubbed the Toyota uBox concept, the vehicle is the result of a two-year collaboration with Toyota Motor North America designers and engineers along with the graduate students. Intended to appeal to the next generation of car buyers, Gen-Z, the uBox’s typical customer “is a young entrepreneur 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.”
Along with its bold exterior design, there’s a versatile interior that can be rearranged to accommodate various activities like working or operating a business to hauling large cargo. The cabin’s low floor allows for reconfigurable or removable seats set on sliding tracks that can be nested.
Powering the Toyota uBox concept is a compact, dual-purpose all-electric powertrain.
To help appeal to the Gen-Z shoppers’ personalities, the vents, dashboard display bezels and door trims can be personalized and made with 3D printing technology, meaning users can share design ideas through an online community.
One highlight Toyota wanted to point out is the unique pultrusion technique that was developed by the students that allows composite carbon fiber rails to be bonded with aluminum to support a curved glass roof.
“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.”