Made by and for GenZ
Teen students answer Toyota challenge to build a utility vehicle in the U. S.
TOYOTA and a group of students have revealed the uBox at this week’s Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition in Detroit.
The uBox is a concept car born out of Project Deep Orange, which dates back to 2014, when graduate students at the International Center for Automotive Research at Clemson University in South Carolina started working with Toyota Motor North America to come up with a vehicle for Generation Z, loosely defined as those born from the mid or late 1990s through the 2010s.
Bear in mind these teens prefer to share a ride than own it and if they have to have wheels, it must be uniquely different.
The challenge Toyota set the automotive design students was to make a utility vehicle by 2020 that GenZ would want to park at their homes.
Paul Venhovens, endowed chair for automotive systems integration at CU- ICAR said this collaboration with Toyota was extremely fruitful. “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 unveiled the uBox on April 12th at the Society of Automotive Engineers World Congress and Exposition at the Cobo Center in Detroit.
Arjun Narayan, on power train team, said one of the first challenges was to decide what “utility” meant for young 20 somethings.
“Was it hauling surfboards around, or is it something more/
Mark Benton, DO6 project manager, described Gen Z very product orientated, they are not brand loyal, but they are brand conscious. So they like to have product that can customise.
Hence the interior has modular zones, with the dashtrims made with panels that can be replaced with different shapes and colours.
The roof panels can be glass or metal. The seats slide on rails to different settings and can turn 180 degrees.
There is no C- pillar, instead the doors open barn- door style to make a wider space for loading. All the panels are designed to be 3D printed.
The electric powertrain, no details of which are known yet, doubles as a battery bank for power tools, with 110- volt outlets inside and out.
The cabin is built in modular zones, with the dashtrims panels easily removed and replaced with different shapes and colours. The roof can be glass or metal and the seats slide on rails and turn 180 degrees, while the passenger chairs fold up to fit a bicycle or surfboards. Several 220 V sockets can also power tools.