Made by and for GenZ

Teen stu­dents an­swer Toy­ota chal­lenge to build a util­ity ve­hi­cle in the U. S.

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING - AL­WYN VILJOEN

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.

PHOTOS: SUP­PLIED

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.

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