So you’ve heard of the Xbox. But what about the uBox?
Well, there is now such a thing. The uBox, or Deep Orange 6, is an all-electric urban utility concept designed, engineered and built by graduate students from Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research “Deep Orange” team with the help and support of Toyota.
Clemson says Toyota asked the students to come up with a vehicle that would appeal to the next generation of young, urban buyers, dubbed the Gen-Z generation. Toyota describes that person as 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.”
The uBox is designed to look “muscular” like it’s sprung forward in motion at all times. The interior can be rearranged for various activities, from working or operating a business, to hauling bulky cargo. A low floor allows for nesting reconfigurable, removable seats on sliding tracks.
Inside, vents, dashboard display bezels and door trim can both be made and personalized with 3-D printing technology. Electric 110-volt sockets are located throughout the interior for power needs.
Toyota says one feature in particular caught the attention of Toyota Executive Program Manager Craig Payne. It’s a unique pultrusion technique developed by the students that allows composite carbon fiber rails bonded 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 Payne. “The fact that they were able to achieve an industry-first manufacturing technique as students speaks volumes for this program.”
“The collaboration with Toyota was extremely fruitful,” said Paul Venhovens with 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.”
Toyota and the Clemson team unveiled the uBox on Tuesday at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exhibition in Detroit.