Toyota Motors has partnered with graduate students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) on a vehicle dubbed the uBox, an electric vehicle (EV) with a flexible design that is intended to appeal to the next generation of car buyers.
The CU-ICAR and Toyota collaboration, called Deep Orange, immerses students into every aspect of automotive development, from market research and design studies to engineering design and manufacturing.
“Deep Orange gives students hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build,” says Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program. “It’s like automotive boot camp for the real world, and it wouldn’t happen without industry partners like Toyota.”
According to Toyota, a typical customer for uBox 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.
To that end, the uBox incorporates a number of useful features designed to make the most of the vehicle. This includes an interior design that Toyota says can be rearranged for various activities, from working or operating a business to hauling bulky cargo. A low floor allows for reconfigurable and removable seats on sliding tracks that can be nested.
The uBox utilizes a compact, dual-purpose, all-electric powertrain providing stationary energy to power consumer electronics, power tools or other devices through various 110-volt sockets located throughout the interior and exterior.
This is the latest utility concept aimed at the next generation of drivers from Toyota. An earlier concept, the Toyota U2 Utility, offered similar features to the uBox, such as the versatile interior, but with a more conventional gas-powered drivetrain.