Clemson University uBox Concept Solves Unique Manufacturing Technique [News]

Clemson University UC-ICAR uBox concept vehicle
uBox is a futuristic-looking concept car that was developed by the graduate students from Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR). Code name Deep Orange, the concept was built from soup-to-nuts in collaboration with Toyota Motor North America and got the students involved in every aspect of automotive development. The result is a forward-thinking, flexible concept that is intended to appeal the next generation of car buyers: Gen-Z.

One feature in particular caught the attention of Toyota Executive Program Manager Craig Payne, 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.”

Clemson University UC-ICAR uBox concept vehicle

The graduate program is a two-year collaboration with Toyota designers and engineers, which got the students involved with market research, design studies, engineering design, and manufacturing.

From the market research studies, the students came to the conclusion that young entrepreneurs would like a vehicle that could functional as a mobile office space, or other career-centric lifestyle, and also offer the utility and versatility for recreational purposes on the weekend.

The result is a flexible interior that can be rearranged from working or operating a business, to creating space for large objects. The floor has a low step-in height and has removable seats on sliding rails that can be nested.

Being mindful of minimizing the carbon footprint, the uBox is fitted with a compact, dual-purpose, all-electric powertrain.

Clemson University UC-ICAR uBox concept vehicle

“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.”

Toyota and the Clemson Deep Orange Team will unveil the uBox Tuesday, April 12th at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition at the Cobo Center in Detroit. It will then remain on display in the Cobo atrium through Thursday, April 14.

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