The Shape of Things to Come? Generation Z Wants This, Right Now

Steph Willems
by Steph Willems
the shape of things to come generation z wants this right now

It’s a bit like Scooby-Doo meets A Clockwork Orange.

Graduate students at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research (CU-ICAR) spent two years working with Toyota to create the ideal vehicle for the next age demographic to leap into the car-buying fray: Generation Z.

No, we’re not talking about some stodgy Millennial born in 1985, with his cardigans and Dodge Journey. Generation Z refers to the cohort born in the late 1990s (at the earliest) onward, and these are the people automakers are going to start targeting right … about … now.

Working under the project name Deep Orange (“Orange?” Hmm … ), the students crafted the ultimate ride for the generation who’ll have Instagram photos from their elementary school graduation. The year 2020 was the engineering group’s target marketing date.

Called the uBox, a name Scion might have appropriated if this was 2004, the vehicle blends versatility, cargo room and some degree of off-road capability. Clamshell doors, 3D-printed materials, a bonded glass roof and emissions-free connectivity hookups everywhere are defining characteristics of the uBox.

“Deep Orange gives students hands-on experience with the entire vehicle development process, from identifying the market opportunity through the vehicle build,” said Johnell Brooks, an associate professor in Clemson’s graduate engineering program, in a release.

Configurable seats and interior panels would allow buyers to put a personal touch on their rides. After all, you don’t want a uBox that looks just like the one your friends Jayden and Liam own.

“They’re not brand loyal, but they are very brand conscious,” said Mark Benton, Clemson’s project manager for Deep Orange, of Gen-Z car buyers. “They like to have products they can customize.”

Toyota and Clemson weren’t forthcoming on the concept’s propulsion source, but the wording of their statements and body style implies a battery electric vehicle. A high floor would allow for a large, flat battery pack and electric motor, freeing up space for a cavernous interior (which could be rented out on Airbnb during Gen-Z’s low-money years).

[Image: Toyota Motor Corporation]

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2 of 70 comments
  • Redapple2 C2 is the best. C3 next. Then C7 (looking at you jimII).
  • Jeff S Vulpine--True the CAFE rules are for ICE.
  • Gray I grew up in the era of Panther and Fox platforms. If only they developed a good looking two door Conti. The four doors became a cult in their own right. And kept the 351W as a top line option.
  • Vulpine ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Bring back the TRUE compact trucks. The demand for them is far higher than the OEMs want to admit.
  • Brn More likely, with Google having troubles, the money tree isn't as ripe as it once was and cutbacks are needed.I hope the overall industry continues to evolve. When I get the the point I can't easily drive, I would still appreciate the independence that autonomous vehicles can bring.